Lebanese elections: Going up in Smoke? - Syria Comment

Lebanese elections: Going up in Smoke?

Anti-Syrian MP wounded in Beirut car bomb: sources

BEIRUT (Reuters) – A car bomb killed an anti-Syrian Lebanese lawmaker and at least six other people in Beirut on Wednesday, just six days before parliament was due to elect a new president, security sources said.

The lawmaker, Antoine Ghanem of the Christian Phalange party, was killed by the blast in a Christian district of the Lebanese capital. At least 19 other people were wounded by the bomb in the busy commercial and residential area of Sin el-Fil.

[Comment by JL] This is significant because Presidential elections must be carried out before the end of November and March 14th's majority is only held by a few deputies. The immediate impulse of journalists will be to tie the killing of Ghanem to Syria. They will see it as Damascus' pay back for Israel's bombing raid on Syria. 

Andrew Lee Butters, story yesterday will seem prescient in this respect, "Will Syria's response to Israel come via Lebanon?" Wednesday, 18 September, 2007.

Reporters will be irresponsible if thy make the Syria connection without commenting that the last two assassinations of March 14 statesmen were pinned on Fatah al-Islam, a Lebanese, al-Qaida-linked, Sunni extremist organization that the Lebanese Army says has no known links to Syria. The murky undercurrents of Lebanon's militias are hard to read. The press will undoubtedly simplify for us with the follow sort of anodyne statement blaming Syria: "Hariri's family says Syria was behind the killing of the former prime minister and later attacks, but Damascus denies this." Such reporting is irresponsible without at least mentioning that Lebanese state authorities have fingered Lebanese extremist groups for the last several attacks and has yet to come up with any hard evidence linking Syria to previous murders.

Chibli Mallat explains "What Lebanon's president should do about Syria," in the Daily Star, September 18. He is a presidential candidate in the up-coming Lebanese elections. He offers Syria full Lebanese assistance in getting back the Golan by supporting it in peace conferences in exchange for no Syrian interference in Lebanon. He writes:  "One sentence displaying responsible conciliation from Assad would suffice: Syria, he should say, desires a constitutional change in Lebanon's presidency, and considers it has no say in whom that president should be. This signifies a nod toward conciliation with Syria, but it will not placate the opposition who want more power in government.

Mallat's criticism of the Brammertz investigation into Hariri's killing is well put. He writes:

I have criticized investigator Serge Brammertz, and would continue if elected. After two years of reports, the Lebanese and Syrian publics, and the world, are entitled to know more. Either the investigator has no evidence of the involvement of the Syrian leadership and its Lebanese allies – in which case Mehlis and the initial UN investigator of the case, Peter Fitzgerald, were wrong, and Brammertz should say so publicly (after all four people, at least, have been sitting in prison without trial for over two years now); or Brammertz thinks the conclusions of his predecessors were correct, and he must say so publicly.

The policy of any new Lebanese president has, therefore, been made excruciatingly difficult by the fog created by the investigator's performance over the past two years. If no evidence is forthcoming of the Syrian leadership's involvement, we should accept this and mend the political rift the murder has so dramatically occasioned. If we have cause to believe that Syria was involved, then any new president's attitude must depend on the level and role of the accused, and the reaction of the Syrian regime to it. The bottom line is that any accused should stand trial, however high in the governing system – in Lebanon or Syria. Any other result will deepen the mistrust between the two countries, and the risk of open military confrontation. Hence my continued hope that Bashar Assad was not involved in Hariri's assassination and other crimes.

Syria reopens 2 border crossings with northern Lebanon closed in May after a Lebanese Delegation meets with Farouk al-Sharaa

The Syrio-Lebanese socio-economic issues are very much entangled. The effects of any internal Syrian policy on Lebanon is grave, more so than Lebanese M14 politicians want to admit.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Beirut for a conference. When the taxi driver from the airport knew I’m Syrian, he expressed his anxiety about the Syrian government decision to remove subsidies on oil and its plan on introducing VAT. I was astonished. Here was a Sunni Beiruti Lebanese telling me how my government’s internal economic decision is going to affect him negatively. He went on and on on how his family and extended family buy their yearly “mooneh” from Syria and how the economies of Lebanese villages on the Syrian border will be devastated with the decision of introducing VAT in Syria or removal of government subsidies on oil, diesel or gas.

The decision to reopen the border crossing with Lebanon will not affect many Syrians (maybe only those who are used to clubbing in Beirut), but people on the Lebanese side of the border will definitely be jubilant.

Policy makers asking for curbing on Lebanese-Syrian border will definitely face much resistance from hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens who strongly depend on the subsidized neighboring Syrian market for their day to day livelihood.

The taxi driver asked if there is anyway that pressure can be made on the Syrian government to reverse its decision and keep the subsidies.. I smiled!

LEBANON: Presidency crisis risks two governments
Wednesday, September 12 2007
Oxford Analytica 2007

EVENT: Sunni leader Saad al-Hariri is due to respond this week to Speaker Nabih Berri's compromise initiative designed to break the deadlock between government and opposition before the parliamentary session to elect a new president on September 25.
.
SIGNIFICANCE: The 128 deputies have from September 25 to November 24 to elect a president, who in accordance with tradition is drawn from the country's Christian Maronite community. …
.
ANALYSIS: The parliamentary session on September 25 has long been seen as a potentially crucial date for Lebanon. It will be the first time parliament has met since last October as Speaker Nabih Berri has refused to convene lawmakers after his opposition allies resigned from the government.
.
Two governments? Berri is citing his reading of Article 49 of the constitution in calling for a two-thirds quorum of the 128 MPs to be present on September 25, without which he will not convene the session:
  • The opposition has threatened to boycott the vote and deny parliament a quorum, thus blocking the process.
  • In return, the pro-government majority has threatened to go ahead and choose a president from its own ranks with its majority, possibly in a parliamentary session outside of parliament.

Such outcomes are widely expected to lead to either side declaring their own government, citing their conflicting interpretations of Article 49. Lebanon witnessed a similar scenario of two governments in 1988 when Amin Gemayel, the president at that time, named then army commander General Michel Aoun to a head a military government in conflict with the existing cabinet.

Impasse. So far, both sides have been uncompromising. The 'March 14' government coalition demands a new president who will:

  • commit Lebanon to the UN tribunal to try the killers of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri;
  • ensure that Syria does not return to its previous position of power broker in Lebanese affairs; and
  • respect UN resolutions 1559 and 1701 which call for Hizbollah to disarm.

For its part, the Hizbollah-led opposition stresses that a new president should:

  • resist US attempts to act as protector of Lebanon;
  • respect Hizbollah's status as a liberation force in southern Lebanon; and
  • implement policies to counter nepotism and corruption in public life, which they blame the current government for exacerbating.

Hizbollah's bid for power, which started after last year's war, is a key factor in this impasse. Its flat refusal of any president from the March 14 group who is likely to pursue UN resolutions 1559 and 1701 dictates the opposition's stance and leaves little room for manoeuvre.

Divided counsels. The March 14 group have divergent priorities:

  • Saad al-Hariri's Sunni bloc is mainly concerned with securing a president who will support the UN trial of his father's killers.
  • Walid Jumblatt and Samir Geagea have made opposition to Syrian influence, the disarmament of Hizbollah, and concern over what they call the "Hizbollah state" within the Lebanese state, their first priorities.

Neither of these stances accommodates the opposition's standpoint.

Berri's compromise. Berri last week proposed to relinquish the opposition's claim for a unity government in return for agreement on a consensus candidate. This proposal reflects a changed situation after the UN Security Council on May 30 passed Resolution 1757 authorising an international tribunal for the trial of Hariri's killers. A unity government is no longer necessary to block a vote for such a tribunal, and the main focus for the opposition forces is now to avoid Emile Lahoud being replaced by a president beyond their influence.

The proposal has been positively received by the diplomatic corps, and also met with some approval among some March 14 leaders, including Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Others like Jumblatt and Geagea see the proposal as an ultimatum, because the opposition could fail to show up at the parliamentary session unless the March 14 group agrees to find a consensus candidate.

CONCLUSION: If Berri's initiative fails to reduce mutual mistrust and either side sticks to its guns, September 25 could lead to a schism right through Lebanon's political system. The regional and international powers have long realised the danger, but have failed to conjure a remedy to the slow fracture of Lebanon's state institutions. Barring an eleventh-hour change of attitude, the outside world can do little more than watch that scenario unfold.
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ArabReform Bulletine has this: Lebanon: Scenarios for the Presidential Election by Sarkis Naoum

Comments (113)


IsraeliGuy said:

You know, sometimes I keep wondering what kind of idiots work at the Lebanese Ministry of Transportation.

They keep letting Lebanese people import those unsafe, dangerous vehicles that have a disastrous track record of exploding by themselves (maybe it’s overheating or something).

I don’t know where they’re importing these amateur vehicles from, but why don’t they learn the lesson?
Don’t they understand after so many times that driving one of those really cheap and unsafe cars can really endanger your life?

Why else would these cars explode?

September 19th, 2007, 5:17 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Israliguy
It may well be that they importig them from the successful weapons and bombs factories in neighboring peace-loving Israel. Soon they will import WDM Israeli made..

September 19th, 2007, 5:28 pm

 

Murphy said:

Is there any media outlet out there which can move beyond the inane – and usually wildly inaccurate – labels of ‘pro-Syrian’ and “anti-Syrian”?

Al Jazeera English is particularly disappointing. Just as in the assassinations of Geymayel and Eido, they are following the CNN script, working on the assumption that Syria is guilty (no evidence required, and no mention of the fact that there isn’t actually much of it)and basically treating politically motivated hearsay as established fact. It was only their excellent Palestinian-born analyst, Marwan Bishara, who is stating what should be obvious to anyone with half a clue about Lebanon: that the supposed “anti-Syrian” politicos interviewed have very good reason to try to implicate Syria, that their claims are merely opinions, and that there are in fact a number of possible culprits.

Lebanon is the land of mirrors within mirrors, of the double double bluff. But you’d never guess that to enter the simplistic “pro-Syrian” “anti-syrian” world of CNN. Or Al Jazeera.

September 19th, 2007, 5:28 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

this is more related to the previous posts but a friend received this article and i thought it was an interesting read.

http://www.rezgar.com/debat/show.art.asp?aid=109039

September 19th, 2007, 6:25 pm

 

Alex said:

Murphy,

Two years after Syria withdrew from Lebanon, any news story or opinion piece on Lebanon will surely include the “pro-Syrian” and “anti-Syrian” labels to explain anythng in LEbanon .. any alliance, any conflict, any assassination .. any election results.

Yet they want Syria to not be included in any talks about the future of LEbanon .. the Saudis talk to the Iranians in Tehran about Lebanon but they would not visit Damascus and they cancel the trip of Waleed Mouallem to their capital instead.

Let the American, French, and Saudi ambassadors try to manage Lebanon .. they have failed miserably so far.

I just remembered when Michel Aoun won a majority of the Christian votes in 2005. CNN’s headline (on their website) was:

“Anti-Syrian Christian leader wins Lebanese elections”

Time magazine had “Pro-Syria politician wins Christian vote”

It was the time when Aoun just came back to Lebanon … no one knew if he was anti or pro Syria…. they would not accept that he is neither nor.

September 19th, 2007, 6:39 pm

 

Murphy said:

“It was the time when Aoun just came back to Lebanon … no one knew if he was anti or pro Syria…. they would not accept that he is neither nor.”

Quite.

It’s a bit like the way the crook Jumblatt and the late Hariri are invariably referred to as “anti-Syrian”. In fact, both were pillars of the Syrian establishment in Lebanon for many years.

Plus, since when is Syria the only player in Lebanese affairs? Have we forgotten the bellicose country to the south, who killed 1,000 Lebanese just over a year ago? Or the superpower who supplied them with the weapons to do their work? Not to mention the myriad short-term alliances and groups within Lebanon itself.

September 19th, 2007, 6:50 pm

 

Alex said:

Can you count how many “anti-Syria” appears in this fresh news story?

Beirut (dpa) – Lebanese MP Antoine Ghanem who was killed by a car bomb in a Christian suburb of Beirut on Wednesday, had returned to the country only two days previously.

The 64-year-old lawyer who was killed near Sin el Fil area along
with six others, had been an Christian Phalangist party MP since 2000, and was part of the ruling anti-Syrian majority.

Ghanem had gone to Dubai a few months ago after the assassination of anti-Syrian MP Walid Wido in June. He had been planning to get a bullet-proof car in the coming two days out of fear of an assassination attempt, according to a close family members.

He was a member of the Committee for the Displaced Affairs in the Lebanese parliament. He only returned to Beirut to attend the Parliament session on September 25 to elect a new president,” said the head of the anti-Syrian majority bloc, Saad Hariri.

The attack came six days before parliament was scheduled to meet to elect a new president in a vote expected to be deeply divisive.

Ghanem was the eighth anti-Syrian figure killed in Lebanon in the past two years. The string of assassinations began on 14 February 2005, with the murder of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Hariri’s family blames Syria for the assassination and later
attacks, but Damascus denies involvement.

Ghanem’s death reduced the anti-Syrian majority in parliament to 68 members to choose a successor to pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud. `The Syrians only need to kill four (more) of us (anti-Syrian) majority to block the election of a president that will rule a democratic Lebanon,” anti-Syrian MP Walid Jumblat said.

Ghanem is the second member of the Christian Phalange party to be killed after the November 2006 murder of former president Amin
Gemayel’s son and industry minister Pierre Gemayel.

September 19th, 2007, 7:06 pm

 

idaf said:

Again, the assassination is well timed. Exactly one week before the presidential election in Lebanon. The opposition had a moderate initiative (the Berri initiative) which had backing -hold your breath- from Saudi! Today, before the bombing, the Saudi King himself said that Saudi is backing the Berri initiative. This made many in the M14 people furious and things seemed to have been going in the way the opposition wants (which is very much to Syria’s liking).

Suddenly we get this assassination and the demagogues start their campaign against Syria. The media obediently point the finger to Syria as usual without any real analysis. The opposition is on the defensive again and the M14 group of politicians and war lords gets a life saving boost to re-launch their sentimental demagogic anti-Syria campaign and accuse anyone from the opposition who will think of not showing up for the election on Sep 26 of being a traitor.

Although tragic, this is a boring re-run of what has been happening with the assassination in Lebanon for the last couple of years. Jubran Tuaini assassinated 24 hours before the Security Council meeting on Syria to discuss the Mehlis report a couple of days after he returns to Lebanon. Pierre Gemayel was assassinated days before the launch of the mass opposition movement in Beirut. Ghanem is killed 7 days before the presidential elections 2 days after coming back from self imposed exile to Lebanon. And the list goes one. Anyone else seeing the amazing similarities?

The outcome of any assassination is well known.. strengthening the M14 movement by giving it a political boost through the launch of the post-assassination hysterical rhetoric and anti-Syria sentiment in Lebanon. This scare tactic is proved and tested method with guaranteed results in the Lebanese system.

This said, the anti-Syria media avalanche is about to start once more in the US and Saudi financed media. This is becoming way too boring. The amazing thing is that some people in Lebanon are still falling for it!

September 19th, 2007, 7:14 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Is the suggestion made here that the King of Saudi Arabia is now implicitly backing Barri and the opposition and hence someone in the majority supposedly decided to take out Ghanem to sabotage the King’s new change of heart?

September 19th, 2007, 7:22 pm

 

Murphy said:

“The amazing thing is that people in Lebanon are still falling for it! ”

Do you think all of them are falling for it, or just the usual suspects?

After the Hariri assassination, the media would have you believe that every single person in Lebanon thought Syria was responsible.Of course very many people did and do think this. This is just anecdotal, but I was in Lebanon about a year later, and I would say that while about half of the people I spoke to accepted the Syria dun it theory, about the same number thought Israel was responsible. I have heard the size of the latter group has increased post summer 2006.

No doubt this time round many Lebanese are skeptical of the Syria thesis. I just wish CNN or Al JAzeera would speak to more of them. Plus, a bit of background on the Kataeeb would help: you would never guess, from watching the TV coverage, that, far from being a brave, dedicated ‘anti-Syria” party, they are in fact an extreme right-wing, neo-Nazi sectarian party which had its own militia(s).

September 19th, 2007, 7:24 pm

 

Alex said:

Exactly IDAF.

Here is Jumblatt’s only remaining strategy to escape from reality:

Ghanem’s death reduced the anti-Syrian majority in parliament to 68 members to choose a successor to pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud. `The Syrians only need to kill four (more) of us (anti-Syrian) majority to block the election of a president that will rule a democratic Lebanon,’’ anti-Syrian MP Walid Jumblat said.

There was no way they were going to elect a president to their liking with their “majority” of half+1 or half+ 2… killing one pariament member was not going to change the fact they never had the two thirds needed.

There was no support for their half+1 novelty. Berri was clear that he will not allow it… the new president will need two thirds, just like all other presidents in Lebanese history were elected with a two thirds majority.

And that media covering the Middle East .. I feel sorry for them. Anything short of living in the Middle East for years (like Joshua and Patrick Seale did) there is no shortcut to writing that opinion piece or news story that your editor asked for in a hurry… it will usually end up being the typical story quoting the reliable sources (from democratic regimes like the ones we now have in the United States and Lebanon) … and rejecting automatically the Syrian dictators’ version.

September 19th, 2007, 7:28 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

**********
“Plus, since when is Syria the only player in Lebanese affairs? Have we forgotten the bellicose country to the south, who killed 1,000 Lebanese just over a year ago? Or the superpower who supplied them with the weapons to do their work? Not to mention the myriad short-term alliances and groups within Lebanon itself.”
**********

Well, personally? I believe Norway is behind all of the political assassinations in Lebanon.
I mean, nobody suspect them, right?

How convenient!!!

And still time after time the int’l community is pointing at Syria, like it has any motive to silence anti Syrians.

September 19th, 2007, 7:29 pm

 

Murphy said:

Israeliguy,

Your posts are much better when you don’t try to be witty by means of silly attempts at sarcasm.

Honestly.

September 19th, 2007, 7:30 pm

 

Alex said:

By the way, Israeliguy, I answered your last comment in the previous post.

September 19th, 2007, 7:35 pm

 

Alex said:

Here is a very smart interview

I think he asked some excellent questions.

Poor ambassador.

September 19th, 2007, 7:37 pm

 

bilal said:

I do not think Syria is behind this murder. Simply they cannot be THAT stupid so this time I have to agree with you Alex that Syria is innocent this time.

September 19th, 2007, 7:46 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Thanks Alex.
I’ll go and read it.

September 19th, 2007, 7:47 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Decisions to eliminate people do not get made overnight or at a spurt of the moment. Most of the comments here seem to imply that the party ordering the hits somehow reads the news of the day and when it is not to its liking, it decides to take out a member of Parliament.

September 19th, 2007, 7:55 pm

 

Alex said:

That’s true Ehsani,

So we are left with two long term patterns and facts:

1) Most of those killed are “anti-Syria”

2) The Anti-Syria M14 group almost always benefited (public relations, Sympathy from western journalists, more passionate anti-Syria sentiments just before key events or votes)

September 19th, 2007, 8:04 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Alex,

Are you suggesting that the inevitable sympathy that arises from losing a member of your community is damning enough to render you guilty of the crime?

Is it someone’s fault when he/she gains sympathy from losing a loved one?

September 19th, 2007, 8:12 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

But isn’t the Christian Phalange Party, you know, similar to Generalissimo Franco’s fascist party?

September 19th, 2007, 8:12 pm

 

idaf said:

No Ehsani..

The party behind the assassinations is a well prepared with very good scenario planning, high flexibility and superior technological reach (both regarding access to personal telecommunication in Lebanon and cutting edge bombs making know-how).

The signs of Saudi’s support for Berri has been out there for a week (through statements by the Saudi ambassador to Beirut since Berri launched his initiative).

September 19th, 2007, 8:14 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Nur,

Are you implying that it is okay to take out all fascists? Please clarify the relevance of your comment

September 19th, 2007, 8:20 pm

 

Alex said:

Ehsani,

You wanted to focus on the fact that these assassinations are sometimes taking place hours after the victim arrives to Beirut from France or whatever.

I want to add that it is also important to consider the much quicker statements and conclusions of “Syria did it” that came out few minutes after each assassination … starting from Hariri’s.

And, there is nothing wrong with someone gaining sympathy for losing a loved one … like when a mother or wife lose a loved one. But for the March14 group to translate that sympathy in a consistent way to give them the necessary boost just before every key vote or event, that should make us wonder, no? … how many more of these coincidences do we need until we start seeing a trend?

Let me put it this way: Without those assassinations of “anti-Syria” politicians, things would have been much more to Syria’s liking in Lebanon.

September 19th, 2007, 8:23 pm

 

offended said:

How about this for a headline?

“an explosion took place in a chemical facility which belongs to the Anti-14March Syrian army”

September 19th, 2007, 8:26 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

My friend Alex,

You make it sound that Syria is somehow running for a beauty or most cuddly and lovable contest. whether the world offers sympathies to the anti-Syria crowd does not make any difference to Syria’s strategic interests on the ground.

September 19th, 2007, 8:28 pm

 

Murphy said:

“whether the world offers sympathies to the anti-Syria crowd does not make any difference to Syria’s strategic interests on the ground.”

Yes it does.

Let’s not forget that it was international sympathy for the ‘anti-Syria crowd’ – with its ‘photogenic, raven haired hotties’ that led to the Syrian army being ejected from Lebanon in 2005.

September 19th, 2007, 8:34 pm

 

Majhool said:

Who is ordering these killings?

Possibilities:

March 14

• Phalange party: Out of the question. Amin Jemayyel lost his son and now the party lost Antoine Ghanem.
• The Hariri Sunni block. Out of the question… Hariri the father was assassinated. PM Aido followed.
• Marxists, intellectuals, and lefties. Hawi, Jubran, Kaseer, all killed. Also out of the question.
• Samir Ja’ja’ & Walid Jumplat. Possible. Samir Ja’ja’ is a separatist and was convicted with past assassinations. Jumplat is half crazy and his militia committed horrors in the civil war, He was part of the scheme to overthrow basher. And that plan failed.
• Independents, big families heads. I doubt any has any interest.

March 8,

• Hizbullah. The party takes its orders from Iran. Although possible, it’s not in Iran’s interest to isolate it’s ally in Lebanon. A partition in Lebanon across confessional lines would only take away cards from Iran. South Lebanon will become similar to a Hamas lead Gaza.
• Aoun, I doubt it. It’s very dangerous for Aoun to engage in such a risky game. Plus the guy does not have a criminal record even in the worst of times during the civil war.
• Amal. I highly doubt it. The only reason Amal still exists today is that it’s the only not so radical shia’ part in Lebanon.
• Syrian National Party, Baath party, etc. All those take orders from Syria. So let’s jump to Syria.
• Syria is indeed capable. The security apparatus continues to function in a manner similar to that under Hafez Assad where assassination was common practice used to eliminate enemies. However given Syria’s current weak position in the region. I highly doubt it. It could only hurt Syria more. Syria was disciplined enough in the past year not to middle bluntly in Lebanese affairs like they used to. And Bashar seem to have convinced many, including my self that he is taking a different approach in conducting politics than his late father. The Hariri assassinationg may be a different situation. It could have been a one time deal as Hariri was actively engaged with Khaddam and Ghazy Kanan to overthrow Bashar.

Others:

• Israel. Very possible. We will never know.
• Takferi/Salafi Radicals. Also possible, these groups have always sought open confrontation with the west. They believe that it’s the only way to depose bad Arab Goverments.

I am, not endorsing any possibility I am just thinking out loud. So who you think did it?

September 19th, 2007, 8:38 pm

 

Alex said:

I agree Majhool, here is a summary of the more likely potential assassins:

1) Syria: they are out but they have many allies inside Lebanon. They might be cold killers who want to make those extra-anti Syria politicians pay for it adn to send a message to any others in the future not to think it will be easy to ally with America and Saudi Arabia against Syrian interests.

2) Geagea, Jumblatt: killed tens of thousands of Lebanese during the civil war .. why not few more politicians to “help Lebanon get rid of Syrian interference”

3) Takfiri extremist violent groups (Alrerady Gemayel’s assassination is linked to them)… most of those kiled were Christian. There were many other bombs placed in Christian areas at night … possibly to scare Lebanese Christians to leave the country.

4) Israel: they always operated in Beirut like their backyard. These assassinations succeeded in weakening Syrian positions in Lebanon considerably through these assassinations. Syria is genuinely hated by a quarter of Lebanon today.

Israel showed a similar strategy when they decided to bomb the rest of Lebanon to make the Lebanese people hate Hizbollah … hundreds of civilians died during those raids … what’s another 8 politicians … for a good cause.

September 19th, 2007, 9:03 pm

 

Kamal said:

The comments on this page are just sad, sad, sad…

September 19th, 2007, 9:25 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Well, theoretically, I can understand why some of you may think that Israel may be behind this.
Yet, I’m sure Israel didn’t do it.

Helping the March 14 group establishing itself in Lebanon is far more important to Israel than implicating Syria in a 5th, 50th or the 500th political assassination (no news).

If Israel can help undermining Hizbollah’s position in Lebanon – it will.
I assume that its Israel’s first priority in Lebanon.

September 19th, 2007, 9:31 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Are you implying that it is okay to take out all fascists?

No, I am asking if they are fascists, because if they are, they have many, many enemies (excepting, ironically, Israel, of course).

September 19th, 2007, 9:38 pm

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

for once we agree! It’s one of the 4 above. Syria, Ja’ja’/Junbalat, Israel, Salafis.

Or maybe a combo of all 4.

September 19th, 2007, 9:51 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Well, theoretically, I can understand why some of you may think that Israel may be behind this.
Yet, I’m sure Israel didn’t do it.

Helping the March 14 group establishing itself in Lebanon is far more important to Israel than implicating Syria in a 5th, 50th or the 500th political assassination (no news).

Well Israeliguy wouldn’t a civil war help Israel to eliminate Hizbollah? First let the others to take most of the “steam” of Hizbollah and then finalize the job by taking South Lebanon.

How has Israel helped the March 14 group establishing itself in Lebanon? The last years war made Hizbollah more popular and the constant Israeli airspace violations certainly have not helped the governments (March 14 group) position in showing the country’s sovereignty.

Who benefits from a civil war in Lebanon? Not Syria, not Iran, not Saudis, not Palestinians, not normal Lebanese. Israel does.

By the way Netanyahu confirms IAF carried out raid in Syria. Israel so has admitted the raid and Netanyahu wants points of that.

September 19th, 2007, 10:18 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy,

“Helping the March 14 group establishing itself in Lebanon is far more important to Israel than implicating Syria in a 5th, 50th or the 500th political assassination (no news).”

Hariri’s assassination alone might have been what tiped the scale in motivating a million Lebanese to demonstrate in the streets against Syrian presence in Lebanon .. before the assassination only a thousand people would demonstrate (Pro Aoun usually).

I am definitely not saying Israel did it … but Israel is surely one of the candidates. Did I mention also that only Israel is known for its amazingly successful special operations? Do you know that Hariri had an ultra-sophisticated electronics system protecting him from any bomb threat? … whoever killed him was able to overcome that challenge.

September 19th, 2007, 10:20 pm

 

annie said:

Israelyguy :your humour makes me sick. These are tragic times not only for Lebanon but also for Syria.

I too was very disappointed with Al Jazeera English. Who do they interview first ? Jumblat. A foregone comment.
Fortunately they have Barghouti to restore the balance. Their Middle East correspondent.

September 19th, 2007, 10:22 pm

 

Thomas said:

Landis said:
This is significant because Presidential elections must be carried out before the end of November and March 14th’s majority is only held by a few deputies. The immediate impulse of journalists will be to tie the killing of Ghanem to Syria. They will see it as Damascus’ pay back for Israel’s bombing raid on Syria.

Joshua-

For a social scientist, your causal arrows are all over the place here! How would anyone see this as payback for Isreal’s raid on Syria? It makes no sense. Only tortured logic can contrive a scheme and motive that abdicates at least the tacit approval of the Assad regime and company!

September 19th, 2007, 10:32 pm

 

Guy Regev said:

Another reason Israel is an unlikely candidate is this:

There were several elaborate assassination, some must have required the involvement of tens of people. Informers, surveillance, bomb makers, people to impose as road repair crews etc…
To pull this off, scores of people must have been threatened and/or bribed.
The presence of the Mossad in Lebanon is just not pervasive enough to make it happen. Israel’s few remaining allies in Lebanon would be lithe to collaborate with killing their own, so the Mossad would have to rely on Israeli agents. It can happen once or twice, but would then be exposed.

Unlikely.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

September 19th, 2007, 10:47 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

I have another angle for the purported Israeli/US raid on Syria.

The Russian Air Force flew to Guam a few weeks ago, taking the Americans by surprise. Indeed, it has been carrying out a number of suprise overflights/incursions. Then the Russians test fired this R24 multiple warhead and are now contemplating a permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean.

Given the location, perhaps there’s a chance that the “Deir-54” area actually held some kind of electronic listening post with maybe Russian advisors? And that the Israelis really didn’t do much, except catch them by surprise?

September 19th, 2007, 10:57 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

*********
“Well Israeliguy wouldn’t a civil war help Israel to eliminate Hizbollah? First let the others to take most of the “steam” of Hizbollah and then finalize the job by taking South Lebanon.”
*********

SIMOHURTTA, I wouldn’t go to the extreme of ‘eliminating Hizbollah’.
I don’t think that a civil war will achieve that, but maybe you’re right, perhaps I can say that Israel will benefit from it – just as it benefited from the long years of the Iran-Iraq war (BTW, did Israel imitate it?).

On the other hand, I could argue that a Syrian would benefit from the liquidation of an anti Syrian, especially before election time.

You can say that it’s an obvious framing and we can continue this dance on and on.

You have what you feel is a reasonable assumption and I have what I feel is a reasonable assumption.

The thing that makes me wonder the most is how come, after so many assassinations, no smoking gun was found – or am I wrong?
You clearly know more about it than I do.

I mean, if it was one assassination, ok – I can understand it.
But so many and the investigation always finds nothing?
How can it be?

*********
“Did I mention also that only Israel is known for its amazingly successful special operations? Do you know that Hariri had an ultra-sophisticated electronics system protecting him from any bomb threat? … whoever killed him was able to overcome that challenge.”
*********

Obviously, all the assassinations were made by pros.
I assume that if you have the right money, you can easily rent a hit team.
Frankly, It doesn’t have the characteristics of an Israeli job.

But I guess I’m not the person that will persuade you and I understand your automatic suspicion.
Israel is an automatic suspect for almost everything in the Middle East 🙂

*********
“Israelyguy :your humour makes me sick. These are tragic times not only for Lebanon but also for Syria.”
*********

Well, sorry if it was too much to bare.

September 19th, 2007, 11:02 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Surely we’ve reached this conclusion on this forum many times before, right?

Playing the “let’s-figure-out-who-did-it-by-seeing-who-benefits-no-wait-let’s-figure out-who-couldn’t-have-done-it-by-seeing-who-doesn’t-benefit” game will just make you go round and round in circles forever. For all we know, people, there isn’t one Machiavellian wizard of Oz pushing the buttons behind the spooky curtain. In fact, a plausible case could be made that several different (short-sighted) groups have joined in, precisely because of the efficacy of these “messages”. It’s a sad fact, but the frequency of the messages have transformed into a veritable *discourse* of violence, and I wouldn’t doubt that there are many conversationalists in Lebanon today.

September 19th, 2007, 11:40 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

where is Alfred Hitchcock, when you need him

September 20th, 2007, 12:17 am

 

why-discuss said:

What is Hercule Brammertz doing to stop the suspects he has been tracking for 2 years before they execute more murders???

September 20th, 2007, 12:37 am

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

L’Orient-Le Jour says Ghanem spent the summer in Europe out of fear for his life. He returned to Beirut on Sunday via the UAE to participate in the Parliamentary election. He took the trouble to change out his parliamentary plates on his Chevy for normal tags.

A white Mercedes 270 crammed with more than 100 lbs of explosive was detonated by remote control as Ghanem’s car drove past, killing Ghanem, his driver Antoine Ghorayeb and a bodyguard, Tony Daou. Khalil Fayad survived the blast.

Twenty cars were damaged and the asphalt on the street liquefied. The façades of neighboring buildings collapsed. The doors of apartment units were blown of their hinges.

The Canadian Hospital of Beirut was flooded with injured and panicked relatives.

September 20th, 2007, 2:40 am

 

Enlightened said:

“You know, sometimes I keep wondering what kind of idiots work at the Lebanese Ministry of Transportation.”

Israeli guy, these idiots have comparable colleagues in the Israeli ministry of Defence who scorched Southern Lebanon with millions of cluster munitions, and their colleagues from the ministry of transport who import Caterpillar bulldozers for the express purpose of demolishing Palestinian homes.

While i am at it, and to be impartial it is the same idiots who give Hezbollah and Hamas their missiles that also have a PHD in Idiocy.

You see Israeli guy not only one group has the banner of idiocy to cling to in the Mid East, it is a disease in the ME, and your smugness has not allowed you to see clearly in regards to this issue.

More importantly, regarding the asasination of Ghanem, this episode wreaks of an inside job of the Internal Security Services within Lebanon, The politician had been hiding in Europe for the past six months, and had just arrived back in lebanon in the past couple of days, and had enough time to change his parliamentary car plate!!!!

Some one knew he was back!(those idiots in the department of Transport maybe?)

Anyway, 3 more politicians to go to reduce the majority, however the assasins might have left there run too late ! only five days before the parliament convenes, unless we have mass murder on the way to parliament, it is Lebanon and anything is possible!

September 20th, 2007, 4:16 am

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

whatever happened to the Hariri investigation????

September 20th, 2007, 4:36 am

 

Murphy said:

“Israel is known for its amazingly successful special operations?”

Not at all sure I agree.

Israel’s special forces and intelligence have this aura of invincibility about them, but according to many experts, it’s all a bit of a myth. Sure, they can pretty much do as they please in the OPT, which is crawling with informers and under total surveillance, but they’re not that hot once they go ‘abroad’. Examples: the failed attempt to assassinate Khalid Mishael in Amman, or the tragi-comic farce which was their bungled attempt to steal the passports of two mentally handicapped New Zealanders.

September 20th, 2007, 5:35 am

 

Maha said:

I would like to comment on the irresponsible journalism that simplifies things into: they killed another anti-Syrian lawmaker to derail the presidential elections, since this will cause the pro-government forces to lose their slim majority. I have to say this is pure BS….

Killing someone from “March 14” is not about reducing numbers, as the propaganda machine keeps on telling us, it’s about ruining the prospects of an agreement between pro-govt forces and the opposition, esp since Berri’s latest initiative was welcomed by all, particularly the Europeans and UN … which also put the “March 14” people in a tight spot: If they don’t cooperate with the initiative, they will be seen as not wanting a solution, and if they do, then they are giving the opposition the upperhand. So a car bomb claiming another “March 14” lawmaker ends up saving them from this quandary.

The numbers game is pure bullshit, since: 1- in any case, the pro-govt forces did not have the majority even before the death of Ghanem 2- in any case, the tradition has been to calculate the quorum based on the numbers of the living… so if you lose one person, the quorum also loses one person. Unfortunately, the Lebanese and international public is ill-informed and they succumb to these stupid propaganda lines.

September 20th, 2007, 7:01 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

SIMOHURTTA, I wouldn’t go to the extreme of ‘eliminating Hizbollah’.
I don’t think that a civil war will achieve that, but maybe you’re right, perhaps I can say that Israel will benefit from it – just as it benefited from the long years of the Iran-Iraq war (BTW, did Israel imitate it?).

Why, that civil war strategy makes perfect sense for Israel? What was Israel’s role in starting and keeping going the Iran Iraq war or the civil war in Iraq (= created partly by the insane separating constitutional laws)? Certainly Israel didn’t “do” those directly but certainly has influenced the thinking of its proxy – USA. Israel has more or less openly said that in its interest is a Arab “world” broken in fragmented small rival tribal nations. A politically united Arab “EU” is Israel’s greatest nightmare. The increased Sunni Shia tensions, created partly through Iraq, is a “winning ticket” for Israel, not for Arabs.

On the other hand, I could argue that a Syrian would benefit from the liquidation of an anti Syrian, especially before election time.

Watching to the timing of these numerous political assassinations shows that Syria has not benefited from those politically in Lebanon or internationally. On the contrary each assignation has weakened Syria’s position further. Hariri’s assassination forced Syria to withdraw their military.

It is difficult to believe that Syrian leadership would do so costly decisions as these murders when they can easily figure out that they only strengthen the opposite side and do not bring any “benefits”. They are not stupid. Why would Syrian president order an murder just some days after when Syria has opened the border crossings and there has been some positive signs of a compromise between rival Lebanese coalitions? Makes no sense.

I do not believe that Israel is directly behind this assassination series, but on a cost-benefit based motive “analysis” it is a “better” candidate than Syria, if one has to choose between Syria and Israel.

September 20th, 2007, 7:57 am

 

ausamaa said:

And we at point into the not-so-far-away-past coninced by all the sincere truth-searching and Independence-loving soles, that the adoption of the International Tribunal by the UNSC (which happend months ago) would put an end to ALL assasinations and would prevent the occurance of such acts. Whatever happened to this line of reasoning? Well?

Or has whoever promoted such a line slid too deep into the real “mud” that was intended for Lebanon to sink in while being used to accomplish someonelses “grander Strategy” so that they insist on beleiving what they were created to make-beleive?

Can so many people “still” be so dump and brainwashed?

September 20th, 2007, 10:02 am

 

idaf said:

Israel finally confesses of the actual air raid.. Now Syria and the SC have a confession by an MP who was “involved from the start” in this operation that Israel broke the international law once again! What’s Syria’s next step?!

Netanyahu under fire for Syria strike comments

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel’s media and politicians lambasted former premier Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday for becoming the first official to say Israel was behind the recent air strike deep inside Syria.

In an interview with Channel 1 news on Wednesday, the hawkish opposition leader said he had given Prime Minister Ehud Olmert his backing for carrying out the strike, which Syria said happened on September 6.

“When a prime minister does something that is important in my view and necessary to Israel’s security … I give my backing. And here, too, I was a partner in the issue from the start, and I gave my backing,” he said, when asked about the mysterious attack.

When asked if he personally congratulated Olmert on the operation, Netanyahu said “yes,” but refused to give details on the attack.

The Israeli government has categorically refused to comment in any way on the reported strike, despite a sea of international media speculation on its target.

Netanyahu’s apparent slip of the tongue was splashed across the country’s dailies and topped the news on radio and television.

“Netanyahu broke the Israeli silence,” screamed a headline in the tabloid Maariv.

“Netanyahu claimed responsibility for the attack in Syria,” proclaimed the headline in the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot.

Politicians seized upon his remarks to roast the chairman of the right-wing Likud party, which has topped opinion polls for months.

“Bibi (Netanyahu) has remained the same Bibi. I have no idea if this was stupidity, folly or a desire to hop on the carriage, a desire to be a partner, a desire to steal credit,” Labour party secretary-general Eitan Cabel told army radio.

“This is simply a very very dangerous conduct, and the man is not worthy of leading.”

Likud MP Yuval Steinitz, a close Netanyahu ally, conceded that the remarks “were not wise,” but insisted to public radio that they did not compromise the state’s security.

Olmert’s office told ministers to refrain from any comments on Netanyahu’s words, a senior official said, and the government spokeswoman declined to issue any statements.

But speaking on condition of anonymity to AFP, one government official slammed Netanyahu’s remarks as “completely irresponsible.”

As the leader of parliament’s opposition bloc, Netanyahu holds regular monthly meetings with the prime minister that often touch on the state’s most sensitive diplomatic and security issues.

September 20th, 2007, 10:57 am

 

Murphy said:

I still don’t understand the big hush-hush in Israel.

The explanation offered by some – that the Israelis are worried about international censure for an illegal incursion into a sovereign state – does not stand up. Aside from the fact that Israel regularly – and quite openly – violates Lebanese and Syrian airspace, we are talking about a state whose leaders only yesterday proudly announced that they were going to institute a medieval siege on a civilian population.

Plus, as I’ve said before, if this really were a successful hit on a major weapons depot – let alone an evil NK nukes installation – the Israelis would have every reason to brag to high heaven. Not only would it provide a much-needed boost for the badly wounded doctrine of “deterrence”, it would also provide ‘evidence’ of the wicket nature of the Syrian regime, as proven by its dangerous liaisons with even more evil types.

In short, if the ‘nukes’ story is true, Israel would have every reason to boast of it, and little (apparent) reason not to.

September 20th, 2007, 11:33 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

The terrorist theocracy of Iran is still making threats…

Supporters of the Zionist regime will receive their response during the world Qods Day’s rallies, government spokesman, Gholam-Hossein Elham, said Wednesday.

The spokesman made the remarks during his weekly press conference while commenting on the current visit to the occupied Palestine of the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Qods Day is held each year on the last Friday of Muslims fasting month of Ramadan after it was nominated by the late Founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, as a day to voice the protest of the Islamic Ummah against the Zionists.

The day falls on October 12 this year.

“The US loses all opportunities to cooperate with regional and other world states by trying to support a regime (the Zionist regime) which is now at its weakest political and social position,” Elham said.

He warned that Washington’s insistence on its wrong policies and arrogant approaches would have no result “but further political disgrace” for itself.

Referring to the approaching World Qods Day, the spokesman stressed, “Supporters of the Zionist regime will definitely receive the final response for their support on that day.”

… and Syria Comment participants are aghast!

http://www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/menu-236/0709199796134418.htm

September 20th, 2007, 11:46 am

 

why-discuss said:

Akbar
Please note that he refers to the “zionist’ regime… Israel should change their exclusive jewish supremacy regime, opt for a open regime that would include moslems and jews and any other religions on the basis of demographic representativity and then they can hope for peace with the neighbour. They also must deal with the millions of refugees they have displaced by force and who are living in distress in neigboring countries.
Until then Israel will remain in a vicious circle of violence with no way out, despite their support from the US, their IDF, their walls and their aggressive policies.

September 20th, 2007, 12:47 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Why-Discuss discusses:

Please note that he refers to the “zionist’ regime… Israel should change their exclusive jewish supremacy regime, opt for a open regime that would include moslems and jews and any other religions on the basis of demographic representativity and then they can hope for peace with the neighbour.

Israel does what the majority of the country wants. This includes freedom of religion. Unlike the “Islamic Republic of Iran”, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, open instruction, prayer, and expression of all religions is permitted.

They also must deal with the millions of refugees they have displaced by force and who are living in distress in neigboring countries.

Israel does not have to deal with the few thousand Palestinian refugees that were displaced and are still alive. Israel has offered to deal with them before Arafat returned to armed struggled. BTW – The Arabs should similarly “deal” with the Jewish refugees who were displaced by force from Arab lands.

Until then Israel will remain in a vicious circle of violence with no way out, despite their support from the US, their IDF, their walls and their aggressive policies.

Don’t tell the Jordanian and Eygptian “whores”. They’re not listening.

Annie said:

These are tragic times not only for Lebanon but also for Syria.

How are these tragic times for Syria? Are car bombs and missiles exploding in Damascus?

September 20th, 2007, 1:06 pm

 

Murphy said:

“Israel does what the majority of the country wants. ”

So what you’re saying is that, if, some time in the future, the majority of the Israeli population was Muslim, and they wanted to live under Islamic law, Israel would permit this?

September 20th, 2007, 2:40 pm

 

Alex said:

So why don’t we take a look again at the most popular and most detailed Israeli operation story so far, the one in the Sunday Times.

In that story we read that their sources told them:

Only three Israeli cabinet ministers are said to have been in the know – Olmert, Barak and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister.

But yesterday Netanyahu stated that he was consulted as well.

While the story of the Sunday Times is still not proven to be inaccurate (Netanyahu is not a cabinet minister), if Netanyahu was consulted I find it quite interesting that the other cabinet ministers were not consulted and not even informed of the operation in advance. Especially someone like Public Security minister Avi Dichter, a former head of Shinbet (Israeli intelligence) for example … he is the top security expert in the cabinet. Surely he would normally be consulted before Israel sends its air force into eastern Syria to destroy Syria’s alleged Korean nuclear threat. In addition, as Public Security minister, he should be allowed to prepare for a possible Syrian retaliation through Hamas for example.

I think that the whole story we read in Murdoch’s Sunday Times involved some creative …

While we are discussing the Sunday Times report on the Israeli operation, why not look at how Murdoch managed to control that, and other British, newspapers:

Rupert Murdoch’s News International acquired the Times titles in 1981, but the Conservative government never referred the purchase to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, mainly because the previous owners, The Thomson Corporation, had threatened to close the papers down if they were not taken over by someone else within an allotted time, and it was feared that any legal delay to Murdoch’s takeover might lead to the two titles’ demise. This was despite the fact that the takeover gave Murdoch the control of four national newspapers; The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and the News of the World. News Corp also owns the Fox Network. News International is the majority shareholder of BSkyB and James Murdoch is CEO.

September 20th, 2007, 2:55 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

*************
“So what you’re saying is that, if, some time in the future, the majority of the Israeli population was Muslim, and they wanted to live under Islamic law, Israel would permit this? ”
*************

Judaism is both a religion and a nationality.

A Jew is:
– Someone with a Jewish faith
– Someone who belongs to the Jewish people

Since Israel was established as a home for the Jewish people, I wouldn’t count on seeing the Sharia as the governing system.

I assume this definition will go into the Israeli constitution, which will be finalized in the future.

September 20th, 2007, 2:58 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Akbar ,

How many moslems or christians representives are in the Knesseth? Does it reflect the 20% current arab ethnic arab population of Israel? We all know that the demography is changing rapidly:
It is obvious Israel wants to keep the jewish majority in the jewish supremacy regime at any cost, even promulgating racist laws like the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law that was criticized and condemned as ‘racist’
“Such critics have included the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which unanimously approved a resolution stating that the Israeli law violated an international human rights treaty against racism”
About religious freedom, you are badly informed. In Iran there are more 25,000 jews (the largest community of jews in the ME and represented in the parlement) and armenians and Zoroatrians that are practising their religion freely. There are many churches and synagogues in Iran.
You are right that there are restrictions for special sects like the Bahai’s in accessing to governement position.
Iran has no problem with jews, it has a problem with zionist regime.
Have you heard about Zero degree turn iranian popular TV serial?
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are sunni countries and much more repressive but being the friends of the US, medias do not mention all the human rights abuses on women and other religions.
Israel may be tolerant of religious beliefs but this does not excuse them of being an occupying force defying al the UN security resolutions asking for withdrawal of illegaly occupied land. Neither Iran, no Saudia Arabia are occupying by force somebody else’s land.

September 20th, 2007, 3:05 pm

 

Murphy said:

“Since Israel was established as a home for the Jewish people, I wouldn’t count on seeing the Sharia as the governing system.”

So in other words Akbar was wrong: Israel does NOT do what the majority of the population wants, as is the case (at least in theory) in any democracy. Perhaps what he should have said is: Israel does what the majority want – PROVIDED that majority is Jewish. Definetely NOT the behaviour of a democracy, however you try to slice it.

Alex,

Good analysis. More and more it’s becoming clear that the various accounts of the ‘Israeli strike’ just don’t add up. Murdoch’s Times, as is well known, provides valuable services to US and Israeli propaganda, but the holes in this story seem just too large to paper over.

September 20th, 2007, 3:09 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Murphy, as I said Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and it will remain so forever.

Naturally, you base your thoughts and ideas on the equation that ‘Jewish person = a person which belongs to the Jewish religion’ while I adhere to the equation ‘Jewish person = a person which belongs to the Jewish people’.

Naturally, as the US is the homeland for the American people and Syria is the homeland for Syrians – Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people.

Naturally, there are a lot of non Jews who live in Israel (Muslims, Christians, Druze & others) and they all have the same rights as a Jewish citizen.

Obviously, whatever I’ll say will not persuade you, since you’re obsessed with the formula Israel = Racism and I guess I’ll just have to learn and live with it and not lose too much sleep over it.
🙂

September 20th, 2007, 3:23 pm

 

Murphy said:

“Murphy, as I said Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and it will remain so forever.”

Whatever. You do not seem to understand my point, which is that Israel can be a Jewish state OR it can be a democracy. It cannot be both, as my hypothetical question – and your answer – proves. This is becoming more and more obvious to more and more people.

“Naturally, you base your thoughts and ideas on the equation that ‘Jewish person = a person which belongs to the Jewish religion’ while I adhere to the equation ‘Jewish person = a person which belongs to the Jewish people’.”

Not sure how you think you can read my mind, but whether the word “Jew” is defined in religious or ethnic terms makes no difference to this discussion.

“Naturally, as the US is the homeland for the American people and Syria is the homeland for Syrians – Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people.”

This is not a parallel at all, and I bet you know it isn’t. Syrians or Americans can be – and are – of many different ethnicities. A Jew, by your own definition, cannot. American or Syrian nationality is based on citizenship, not ethnicity. You can be an American and also consider yourself of Irish, Jewish, African, Chinese ethnicity. So if American is the homeland for the American people, it is the homeland for just about every ethnicity under the sun. A country which proclaims itself the homeland of the Jewish people is the homeland of one ethnic group only, by its own definition. Maybe you believe that is all fine and dandy. OK, but please don’t claim that a state which considers itself the homeland of only one people is also a democracy. By any normal standards, it is not and cannot be.

“you’re obsessed with the formula Israel = Racism”

I’ve not been on this forum long, but my short acquaintance with you leads me to believe you find it hard to make a post without at least one strawman. Am I right?

September 20th, 2007, 3:35 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

A Jew is:
– Someone with a Jewish faith
– Someone who belongs to the Jewish people

Interesting – Jewish people. Is a Jew who chooses to change his/hers religion after Israel’s “freedom of religion” to Islam still a Jew? Or a Jewish woman who marries a Muslim? Is a third generation Christian who’s grandmother was a Jew still a Jew? How about ten generations of being non-Jewish by religion but with Jewish ancestors.

Hmmm maybe I am a Jew because I know my Austrian mother’s ancestors ‘ religion only for a couple generations. So if my grand-grand-grand-grandmother was a Jew can I move to the Settlements, get a swimming pool on a hill with government loans and walls and private roads fit to my “race”?

September 20th, 2007, 3:38 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

SimoHurtta,

With the advent of the world-wide-web and the internet super-highway, most of your questions have answers that are readily available. I suggest “Google”.

While you’re at it, you may want to try a search on “how to destroy the zionist entity” as part of the “peace thread” Dr. Landis provides here free-of-charrge. Let us know what you find.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_is_a_Jew%3F

September 20th, 2007, 3:56 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Murphy, you represent a phenomena which is actually quite popular among both Arabs who live in the Arab world and Arabs who moved abroad.

You know that your current or old countries are dictatorships lead by leaders that are nothing but dictators and it frustrates you tremendously that tiny Israel managed not only to survive and prosper – but also to be the only democracy in the region.

I know many Arabs wished they could come and claim “Israel is not a democracy and our country is far more democratic” – but they can’t.

The common solution? finding flaws in the Israeli democracy, because it’s the only route they can take.

I wish one day Arabs will have better democracies than Israel.
In fact, I hope to lose the ‘who has a better democracy in the Middle east’ contest someday.

Not because I enjoy losing, but because I prefer to be surrounded by open and viable democracies over hard line dictatorships.

Until then, I suggest you’ll divert your common energies to building your own glorious Arab democracies.

For some reason this track is not moving seriously.
I wonder why.

September 20th, 2007, 3:58 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Until then, I suggest you’ll divert your common energies to building your own glorious Arab democracies. For some reason this track is not moving seriously. I wonder why.

Israeliguy,

I’m thinking this isn’t “moving seriously” because:

1.) Rotting in jail is harmful to your health and it wouldn’t be considered martyrdom by today’s standards.

2.) It isn’t fun*.

*ya’ani – to deal with your own problems as opposed to someone else’s.

September 20th, 2007, 4:18 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

YNET Hebrew version is publishing a fascinating interview with Abdul Halim Khaddam (which was given originally to Al-Sinnara).

In the interview, Khaddam blasts Assad, branding him as ‘a kid’ and as ‘a joke’ and saying ‘he can’t do anything but suppressing the Syrian people’.

I hope this interview will be translated to English and be published on YnetNews, so you can read it too.

I’ll keep an eye.

Here’s the Hebrew one:
http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3451766,00.html

September 20th, 2007, 4:29 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Akbar Palace, you’re right, but it’s still weird.

It’s like living in a filthy home but complaining that the neighbor has a few dust spots on his garage door knob.

Go figure.

September 20th, 2007, 4:36 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Thanks Akbar I know that the answer is mildly said complex. Who wants more members in a closed club with benefits?

Reality in the “democratic, secular” Israel for non Jews: Court rescinds demolition order for road to unrecognized village. How a village that has existed since the time of Turkish rule in Palestine, is unrecognized. Why every day are such stories about the “equal democratic” Israel?

PS. Was Field Marshal Erhard Milch a Jew, when his father was Jew?

PPS. President George W. Bush on Thursday refused to comment on reports that Israel carried out a recent air strike deep inside Syria.

It’s like living in a filthy home but complaining that the neighbor has a few dust spots on his garage door knob.

Boys you are joking or are you serious? A few spots? Well Nazi party members in Germany and Whites in South Africa did not complain and were happy with some “spots” until it was to late. People belonging to the ruling class, ruling religion in your case, never see the problems.

September 20th, 2007, 4:45 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy,

Khaddam already described Bashar as a kid and a dictator.

I don’t know if that billionaire bothered to spend some money on his return to power campaign or not. He still has an amateurish website (can’t spend $10,000 to design a professional one?), and more importantly, he does not seem to have any public relations or political consultants. In his first interview after he broke up with the Baath party and the Syrian regime he appeared in Parisian Palace which was offered to him by Saad Hariri… Khaddam had an elaborate bronze statue behind him which, according to his critics, symbolized his own corruption and his loyalty to Hariri, and not Syria.

With that setting Khaddam had the nerve to criticize corrupt Syrian officials. He is right of course, but he was among the top corrupt people in Syria.

Then in another interview, after he heard all the sarcastic reviews of his interview, he appeared in a London Hotel room with a Syrian flag behind him replacing the bronze statue. the problem is that this time the flag was inverted. Not many people noticed it but I did, and I think it was another indication that Khaddam is not taking his own efforts seriously if he is not willing to pay for PR consultants.

And finally, at the time Israel conducted an aggression on Syria (supposedly) Khaddam went ahead with his opposition meeting in Germany and he gave interviews attacking the Syrian regime.

In Syria, like any other country, when there is an external attack or threat of war, it is considered bad taste for an opposition politician to attack those who are leading the country.

Even non professionals know it. Those who usually attack the Syrian regime on this blog are mostly refraining from doing so this week.

Khaddam should have delayed his latest activities a month or two.

September 20th, 2007, 4:57 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, just a quick response.

I didn’t have the time or the energy to translate the entire article, but just for the record, Khaddam said that he has no information about the incident and added:

“What Israel did against Syrian soil is aggression. We denounced this aggression and you can’t find in Syria one person which will accept such an aggression against it.

This is an aggression against the Syrian people, its sovereignty and independence.
On the other hand, you must admit that the Syrians are worried more and more due to the fact that the Syrian regime doesn’t have the means to protect Syrian skies from the sea or from the ground”.

That’s it.
I didn’t mean to ‘twist’ the interview.
Just brought a few quotes that represented the main aroma of it.

September 20th, 2007, 5:20 pm

 
 

Alex said:

I’m happy he took the time to call it an aggression. But that will not change my opinion that Khaddam’s activity at this time, his taking advantage of the situation to score a point against his political rivals, was wrong.

Besides … as usual, it is easy to criticize. I wish Khaddam told us what he would have done. How he would have responded to Israel’s “attack”.

And finally … Syrians are not worried. no. Israeli planes entering Syrian airspace was not news. It happened many times in the past, and compared to the real threats of 2005 … the expected American invasion (following the successful end of Iraq’s operation) … Syrians are not going to be alarmed by an imaginary story of some Israeli operation that no one heard, witnessed, or smelled.

In the middle east, there is much more tolerance to violence and troubles. For example, you in Israel are willing to live with the occasionally “successful” attacks from Palestinian hard line organizations. You are not alarmed that your government can not protect you.

If war between Syria and Israel takes place, Syria can defend itself. Mr. Khaddam is wrong.

Before the 1973 war Israeli planes downed 13 Syrian fighters. Syria chose to tolerate the humiliation instead of showing the capabilities of its effective SAM6 missiles which it used during the 73 war to shoot all the Israeli planes which tried to bomb Damascus airport and elsewhere.

The Syrians are patient. No hurry, no sweat. If it was easy to defeat them in war, Israel and/or the United States would have done it by now… We now know that during the 2006 Lebanon war both American neocons and French president Chirac put pressure on Israel to attack Syria as well. Israel resisted that pressure.

September 20th, 2007, 5:40 pm

 

Alex said:

Besides, I just found out that …

Jerry Seinfeld was born in New York City. His father, Kálmán, was of Hungarian Jewish background and his mother, Betty, came from a background of Syrian Jews.

September 20th, 2007, 5:56 pm

 

Kamal said:

Israel will resist attacking Syria so long as a more convenient and defenseless target is available: Lebanon. That’s because the Israelis, like the Syrians, are cowardly. Both would prefer to attack Lebanon than to attack each other.

Israel knew full well that last summer’s war was instigated at Iranian-Syrian behest, and they made statements to that effect, and even threatened Syria. But Lebanon, not Syria or Iran, was bombed to bits.

Similarly, Syria responds to any and all threats to its murderous regime by car bombing Lebanon – whether it’s a UNSC session to condemn Syria, the imminent release of an investigative report implicating Syria, or an Israeli airstrike against Syria. When Syria is hit, the statement is always: “We will respond in a time and place of our choosing.” That place is Lebanon – and sometimes Iraq and Palestine, although these battlefields are relatively freer of Syrian tyranny.

Israel and Syria share this abhorrent policy: Talk tough to each other, and bomb Lebanon.

As long as Lebanon is party to the dispute, it will be scapegoated by the warmongers on both sides. That is why it is imperative for Lebanon to remove itself from the battlefied. Anyone who resists Lebanon’s removal from the battle is either 1) suicidal, 2) a traitor, or 3) an idiot. Or else they are Hizballa member, which means they are probably some combination of the three characteristics.

We the Lebanese MUST take Lebanon out of the equation and let the antagonists battle it out among themselves. Those cowards!

September 20th, 2007, 6:55 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Kamal,

The only way you are going to be able to do this is if you physically remove Lebanon and transplant it close to Iceland. Barring that, I think that you have little choice but to share this lovely neighborhood.

September 20th, 2007, 7:01 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

************
“In the middle east, there is much more tolerance to violence and troubles. For example, you in Israel are willing to live with the occasionally “successful” attacks from Palestinian hard line organizations. You are not alarmed that your government can not protect you.”
************

Alex, that’s not accurate.
Yes, I think that the Israeli public has learned, with years, that living in the Middle East has its price, but it’s still a very sensitive issue here.

If an Israeli PM (and politicians in general) gets to be considered in public opinion as someone who can’t protect Israel, he doesn’t stand a chance to survive in the system.

Look at what happened after the 2nd Lebanon war.
Much of the top brass of the Israeli military left or was “left”.
Such processes in Israel spare no one, no matter how senior you are.

You failed miserably? you’re gonna be axed and no excuses or past glory will help you.
If something goes horribly wrong, the public wants a ‘head’ and usually – he’ll get it.

Look what happened to Amir Peretz, the worst defense minister Israel ever had.
He will never be elected again to any meaningful position.

The odds that Olmert will be elected again to be PM are next to zero.
I have no doubt he knows that too and does anything he can to change his inevitable fate.

************
“If war between Syria and Israel takes place, Syria can defend itself. Mr. Khaddam is wrong.”
************

No doubt.
A war is not a basketball game where the result is 100:0.
It’s more like 80:20 or 60:40.

Obviously, having a war is not a walk in the park, but in ‘normal’ wars, army vs. army (and not guerilla warfare or terrorism), usually the better army wins.

Look at the Iraq war.
Actually, it had 2 sub-wars.
The first: the US army vs. the Iraqi army.
The result was pretty obvious and the Americans won easily.

The 2nd: The US vs. the insurgency.
This war can have the American reach limited successes, but I doubt if they can ever really ‘win’ it.

Our war with Hizbollah had some similar aspects as our our conflict with the Palestinians.

And one last thought about a possible Israeli-Syrian war.
The Syrians are not some scarecrows in the field.

They have an army, they have soldiers, they have tanks, cannons, missiles and they have WMD.

However, the stakes are very high here.
The west is dying to see Assad’s regime crumbles to pieces and a war with Israel can bring to such a result.

There’s no doubt that the Americans and the French, practically begged Israel to enter Syria to the circle of war, a year ago.

I have no doubt that Assad is dying to react over the latest incident and there’s no doubt that he can.

However, after seeing what happened to Saddam, I also have no doubt that he will be very careful before accepting any decision that can lead him to devastating consequences.

He knows that a new war will not be ‘another Middle Eastern war’ where Israel tries to win and go home safely.

This time the aim will be his own neck, his own regime – and Israel be backed by American, European and Arab partners who will not let the war end until they have it their way.

September 20th, 2007, 7:22 pm

 

Observer said:

On this last note by Israeliguy: the lesson learned is that the regime will do whatever it takes to stay in power and this means acquiring deterrence by whatever means. It also means that in a fight they will try to defend themselves to the hilt. Morevoer, in dictatorships, the armed forces will fight any outside power if they see that power as aiming to destroy the country as well as the regime. In Russia during WWII the armed forces fought a nationalist war of liberation despite the atrocities of Stalin; and not for the sake of communism. Today, the majority of Syrians as well as most Arabs believe that the US/Israel is out not only to destroy the regime but to destroy the entire region and subjugate and enslave totally the entire populations. There are no more cake walks, there are no more colonialist invasion. France, Britain and now the US are essentially fighting a rear guard action to maintain priviliges that are slowly eroding and a power that is ebbing.

September 20th, 2007, 7:40 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Kamal, let’s assume you’re 100% right.
Will it bring Lebanon independence?
Will it stop the next assassination?
Will it turn Lebanon to a normal country?

I bet you know the answer.
Currently, the most you can get is sympathy from the world, some money and some meaningless UN declarations.

In the Middle East, if you don’t have the balls you don’t stand a chance and you’re at the mercy of stronger powers.

No one will ever do the dirty work for you, but it looks like the Lebanese suffer from dirt allergy.
They never stick their hands into the mud and actually do anything substantial.

Although I sympathize with your agony, sadness, loss of innocent life and strive for a much better future, it will never happen until you’ll expose teeth (or grow some).

Until then, you’ll remain the Middle East’s punching bag.

September 20th, 2007, 7:44 pm

 

Solomon2 said:

Kamal, I do think you are 100% right. However, if Lebanon doesn’t get its own house in order wouldn’t a collapse of the As’ad regime push the remnants and their terrorists into Lebanon?

September 20th, 2007, 8:00 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy,

I understand, but my example did not apply to the Lebanon war .. that would not be comparing Apples to Apples. The original point you were trying to make was that Syrians are probably feeling (as Mr. Khaddam stated) that their government can not protect them. To use the failed Lebanon war as a counter example would be not accurate. Syria did not have to go through a failed one month long war that it innitiated, like Israel did. Prime minister Olmert decided to start that war, he failed and he paid the price in low popularity… Bashar Assad, on the other hand, did not subject his country to a failed war that he initiated.

The more reasonable example would be the way Israelis tolerate the occasional Palestinian attack … Prime minister Sharon did not lose popularity after each “terror attack”. Israelis understood.

Now let us look at examples from the past to see how Arab leaders coped with war losses:

1) Saddam survived the first humiliating Gulf war and he continued to govern for another 12 years. But Assad is not like Saddam, he will not like to go through the same foolish path… although he can probably manage to stay (by force if necessary) if he wanted to, even if he lost a war… but again, he certainly does not wish to go that path as you can tell from the way he maneuvered the various events which could have easily drawn him and Syria into a costly war.

2) Nasser lost the biggest one in 1967. He wanted to resign (or pretended he wanted to) but the Egyptian people genuinely wanted him to stay (most of them at least) .. they felt that he was a good man and that he really gave it his best shot, but he enemy was too strong and evil.

Bashar enjoys a lot of sympathy in Syria. Why? .. because he is young, pleasant, modest, a clean family man who lives in a small house, does not smoke of drink … and most importantly, because after a period of confusion (in 2004-2005) Syrians by now made up their minds .. they believe Bashar and they despise those who are busy cooking stories to make him look like a loser. After Mehlis tried to create a “UN” case against Bashar in the Hariri killing came Brammertz who rejected Mehlis’ findings. Same with all the lies from the Lebanese M14 politicians and their media outlets … Jumblatt and Geagea are surely not popular in Syria (Harir and Seniora, so-so). And the Americans and their Arab moderates allies who cooperate with Israel as you concluded? .. how do you thing Syrians like them?

Basically, even if Israel decided to launch war on Syria and “won”, Bashar will still enjoy Nasser’s type of sympathy… Syrian would not want to punish him for not being able to defeat the whole world. This, of course, would apply only if Israel attacked, not if Bashar decided to feel like a hero (Saddam style) and to start a war himself.

He will not.

3) and finally … I leave it to your imagination what a war between Syria and Israel would look like: Israel’s impressive air force which Syria can not stop (despite its new Russian SAM missiles) destroying everything in Syria … on the other hand … tens of thousands of large missiles (not the Hizbollah type) hitting Israel everywhere on day one of the war, before Israel destroys those missile bases … Syria has no option but to use all its missiles in the first strike.

There is no way either country can win this war. It will not be 80-20… it will be minus 100 / minus 100

And I am not being dramatic at all.

Kamal … Syria and Israel can not go to war anymore .. after the 1967 and 1973 wars, and maybe the 1981 war when Syria did some fighting (losing thousand of its soldiers).

You can call them cowards if you want and I totally understand how unfair it is that they both fight each other on Lebanese soil, but … remember the cold war? … the USSR and the United States were also cowards, no? … they fought each other through proxies … twice Syria was part of that proxy war, just like Lebanon is today.

Also, I hate to remind you that it is actually much worse .. Lebanon is being used by many other “cowards” .. the Saudis, Iranians, Americans, and the French.

Your call for your people to stay out of those regional alliances and out of dirty political games is the only way you can minimize the damage.

And Syria, while being active in the competition over Lebanon, is probably not killing those politicians, but I can not convince you, we tried before.

September 20th, 2007, 8:01 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

********
“On this last note by Israeliguy: the lesson learned is that the regime will do whatever it takes to stay in power and this means acquiring deterrence by whatever means. It also means that in a fight they will try to defend themselves to the hilt.
********

You’re 100% right.

********
“Morevoer, in dictatorships, the armed forces will fight any outside power if they see that power as aiming to destroy the country as well as the regime.”

********

You’re right, but only up to a certain point.
The Syrian army is not a Jihad army and most of the soldiers are not Jihadists.

If the army will understand that a defeat is on the way, many will stop fighting and prefer to surrender (as in previous wars).

Not many will wish to die for a dead dictator.

September 20th, 2007, 8:05 pm

 

Alex said:

“If the army will understand that a defeat is on the way, many will stop fighting and prefer to surrender (as in previous wars).

Not many will wish to die for a dead dictator.”

Israeliguy,

Things changed in two ways.

1) Soldiers would not fight “for a dictator” .. they will fight for their religion and their country … they are all now convinced that the US and Israel are out to get them. President Bush using the “crusade” word repeatedly did not help at all.

2) The old fear of the enemy’s soldiers walking inside Syria is no longer there. Again, the Americans who walked in to Baghdad with ease but got stuck with “we are making progress” afterwards, then the Israelis who also went inside Lebanon with ease but had to stop the failed war a month later both made it possible for Arab soldiers and to not despair if the enemy managed a breakthrough.

Syria is a large country, the Israeli army can not enter and control Syria, even if they had an initial breakthrough… then what?

September 20th, 2007, 8:18 pm

 

Solomon2 said:

the Israeli army can not enter and control Syria, even if they had an initial breakthrough… then what?

Exactly the question Israel faced in the Yom Kippur War over thirty years ago, once their counteroffensive had broken the Syrian Army and the IDF was within artillery range of Damascus. Should Israel conquer an Arab capital? If so, what would Israel do with it?

Removing the Asad regime would be nice, but for its security purposes Israel felt no need for a border beyond the Golan and the Hermon, and if Asad played nice Israel could live with the regime. So Syria got back a square klick or two here and there and a treaty-demilitarized Kuneitra in exchange for peace on the border and there has been peace there ever since.

For security-conscious but conquest-wary Israel to invade or attack Syria – not just terrorists on Syrian territory – thus implies that its perceived threat to Israel has ratcheted upwards to a whole new level.

September 20th, 2007, 8:35 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

********
“The original point you were trying to make was that Syrians are probably feeling (as Mr. Khaddam stated) that their government can not protect them.”
********

Alex, don’t worry – I didn’t try to make this point 🙂
I just brought the quote.

Naturally, Khaddam just trys to stab Assad in the back and increase the humiliation effect.

********
“…Bashar Assad, on the other hand, did not subject his country to a failed war that he initiated.”
********

So I guess he won’t lose the comming elections 😉

********
“and finally … I leave it to your imagination what a war between Syria and Israel would look like: Israel’s impressive air force which Syria can not stop (despite its new Russian SAM missiles) destroying everything in Syria … on the other hand … tens of thousands of large missiles (not the Hizbollah type) hitting Israel everywhere on day one of the war, before Israel destroys those missile bases … Syria has no option but to use all its missiles in the first strike.

There is no way either country can win this war. It will not be 80-20… it will be minus 100 / minus 100

And I am not being dramatic at all.”
********

You may find it hard to believe, but it’s much easier to protect yourself from heavy missiles (like Scuds) than from small and even primitive rockets (like Katyusha or Qassam).

After the Lebanon war, Israel started developing an anti rocket defence system.
It’s still much in development and according to press reports it will be operational in 2 years.

However in terms of real missiles, Israel have an already operational anti missile defense system, called ‘Arrow’.

It’s already in place.
All the tests were successful, but it was never tested in a war.

If it doesn’t work properly, then your scenario is a reasonable one.
However, if it indeed works, as the Israeli defense establishment keeps telling everybody – then your scenario is actually wrong.

September 20th, 2007, 8:39 pm

 

Alex said:

So will you live with the security of those arrows being 90% successful? … only a couple thousand big Syrian missiles getting through?

Without getting into military details of how accurate are missiles and Arrows, the bottom line is: as long as there are sane people in both countries, war between Syria and Israel will not take place, just like the Americans and Russians never went to war.

And, not to sound like I am enjoying this talk about “my country can beat your country” … Israel is considerably stronger than Syria militarily.

Have a good day : )

September 20th, 2007, 8:50 pm

 

Alex said:

Another great idea! … ask Farid for a witness!

September 20, 2007, 2:56 pm
A Light on Syria’s Nuclear Program?

Jay Solomon reports on intelligence matters.

As allegations mount that Syria is pursuing a nuclear program, a leading Syrian-American organization says it’s working to bring to Washington a Syrian military scientist once deeply involved in Damascus’s atomic activities.
[luxury]

The Syrian National Council has been among the most aggressive U.S. organizations pushing for regime change in Damascus. And its leader, Farid Ghadry, has been a regular interlocutor with the White House on Middle East policy.

“We want him [the scientist] to debrief the Congress and the administration” on all of Syria’s nuclear programs, Ghadry said.

The president of the Syrian National Council said he couldn’t disclose either the man’s name or his location due to security concerns. The New York Sun ran an article this week citing the scientist simply as A.F. and recounted his assertions that the Pakistani nuclear scientist, A.Q. Khan, made a string of visits to Damascus in the 1990s.

The Syrian National Council’s moves come a week after Israeli jets attacked a Syrian military installation in the country’s north, according to U.S. officials. Reports have varied widely on the target of the attack; some U.S. officials and newspapers have suggested it was a Syrian nuclear installation being developed by Damascus in cooperation with North Korea. In his news conference this morning, President Bush refused to talk about the matter.

Both Syria and North Korea have repeatedly denied any nuclear cooperation. The countries have also charged neoconservatives in the U.S. and Israel with manufacturing the intelligence as a means to sabotage prospects for dialogue.

Many U.S. officials remain wary of the role expatriates and exiles play in developing foreign policy. The Iraqi exile and politician Ahmed Chalabi is widely charged today with cooking intelligence on Iraq’s alleged weapons programs as a means to justify the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. And a number of Iranian exile groups have played a role in exposing information on Tehran’s alleged desire to develop nuclear weapons.

September 20th, 2007, 9:18 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

************
“The old fear of the enemy’s soldiers walking inside Syria is no longer there. Again, the Americans who walked in to Baghdad with ease but got stuck with “we are making progress” afterwards, then the Israelis who also went inside Lebanon with ease but had to stop the failed war a month later both made it possible for Arab soldiers and to not despair if the enemy managed a breakthrough.”
************

Alex, I know you’re an advocate for comparing apples to apples – so let’s do that.

If we’re using the Iraq example on an Israel-Syria potential war case, then you’re not making the right comparison.

The right comparison will be the first stage of the Iraq war: US regular army vs. the Iraqi regular army.
We know how this conflict resulted and how much time it took.

The Americans managed to break their will to fight pretty quickly.

As I said, not many regular soldiers will want to die for a dictator with an inevitable fate or even for their country, when they acknowledge the realities on the ground.

Obviously, when it comes to army vs. guerilla, it’s a different ball game and different set of rules apply, but it has nothing to do with a potential Israeli-Syrian conflict.

************
“So will you live with the security of those arrows being 90% successful? … only a couple thousand big Syrian missiles getting through?”
************

Syria can’t launch thousands of missiles on Israel 🙂

I mean, if you want to draw a line, take a look at the 1991 gulf war.
Saddam bombarded Israel with Scud missiles.

He wanted to launch as much as he could – and how many did he actually send? 39!
And we didn’t have a missile defense system back then.

I actually remember them falling not far from my home.
I live in Ramat Gan (just east of Tel Aviv) and many of them landed in a 2-4 KM radius around my home.

If Israel, as you say, will intercept 90% of the missiles, probably only 1-5 will come through.

Painful? sure.
But it’s not more than a scratch – unless they will carry a WMD.
In such a case it’s a different ball game, no doubt.

But I assume that WMD will be launched only as a last resort, a few seconds before the regime will fall.

************
“And, not to sound like I am enjoying this talk about “my country can beat your country” ”
************

Oh, it’s ok.

We’re talking as 2 adults who are simply exchanging views and who are interested in current events and not as 2 blood thirsty animals who wish to see the other side in pain or misery.

I wish you nothing but long life, health and happiness.
But thanks for the clarification anyway. 🙂

It’s nice of you.

September 20th, 2007, 9:21 pm

 

annie said:

Just got this via a mailing list ; makes sense

GEAGEA et JOUMBLATT.SEULS RESPONSABLES DE L’ATTENTAT DU 19 SEPTEMBRE 2007

Le premier prédit et le second menace.

Le premier, à chaque approche d’une chance d’entente, prédit des assassinats politiques et, comme d’habitude, lance ses accusations sans preuve.

Mais aussi, qui autre que lui a intérêt dans la liquidation physique de ses potentiels adversaires dans le camp maronite des pro-gouvernementaux ?

Le second n’a-t-il pas déclaré à plusieurs reprises que toute initiative d’entente interpellera une condamnation à mort ?

Seigneur JOUMBLATT, inquiet de voir un jour son hégémonie tribale s’écrouler face à la vague déferlante de la démocratie, n’hésitera pas à menacer ses alliés.Gare à celui qui dévie du chemin.

Ainsi Antoine GHANEM, ayant récemment pris l’initiative de préparer un rapprochement entre le chef des Kataëb et le général Michel AOUN, donc choisi le chemin de l’entente, commençait à compromettre sérieusement l’action JOUMBLATT.

Sa condamnation à mort fut prononcée et exécutée le soir du 19 septembre 2007.

Cet assassinat ne leur suffisait pas ; il faudra aller plus loin en accusant la Syrie et ainsi le jeu est joué à cinq jours du 25 septembre 2007.

Si justice il y a dans notre pays, nous devrons commencer par interroger ces deux individus car il y aura forte chance de connaître toute la vérité, depuis l’assassinat de Rafik HARIRI.

20 septembre 2007
Raymond RICHA

September 20th, 2007, 9:56 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

This time the aim will be his own neck, his own regime – and Israel be backed by American, European and Arab partners who will not let the war end until they have it their way.

Israeliguy you are really overestimating the support to Israel and the hate against Syria’s regime. No Arab country will back your tribes attack against Syria or their regime commit a suicide. The support of Europe is very minimal as the IEAE voting yesterday against Israel’s nukes showed, 53 – 2 (the 2 Israel and USA). Europe doesn’t like Israel’s policy. So your only ally is USA. By the way Arabs are slowly buying Nasdaq and London Stock Exchange. Dollar is on a brink of a free fall. So USA’s ability to support and will to support can be reduced considerably during the coming years. USA has now a very serious problem, much more serious than Iraq.

Arrogance and underestimating the enemy are biggest sin in military history. The enemies learn and adapt. The second Lebanon war wasn’t an easy invasion like the first. The coming Syria war will not be like 67 and 73. This time also the Israeli civil population will have to pay a high price in casualties despite the Arrows and that will trigger an new exodus out of Israel when the flames of war die down. And from that exodus Israel will never recover.

Israel may win the coming battle but with its present strategy it will eventually loose the war. I hope you have a deep bomb shelter and your family functioning gas masks.

September 20th, 2007, 10:01 pm

 

Jamal said:

Its a depressing thought but if this can happen to bomb-free Belgium, what hope has a place like Lebanon got?

(NY Times Sept. 21) Calls for a Breakup Grow Ever Louder in Belgium….more than three months after a general election, Belgium has failed to create a government, producing a crisis so profound that it has led to a flood of warnings, predictions, even promises that the country is about to disappear.

“We are two different nations, an artificial state created as a buffer between big powers, and we have nothing in common except a king, chocolate and beer,” said Filip Dewinter, the leader of Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Bloc….

September 20th, 2007, 10:10 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

***********
“…No Arab country will back your tribes attack against Syria or their regime commit a suicide.”
***********

Not openly, right.

I will not expect to see Arab leaders convene a press conference, supporting Israel and blasting Syria.
If that’s what you meant, then you’re right.

But you saw what happened in the last war in Lebanon behind the scene.
Some Arab regimes supported Israel over Hizbollah and I don’t have to tell you that the deals are being made in the dark – not in front of the cameras.

What you hear in public is just some lip service to for the local public.

***********
“The support of Europe is very minimal as the IEAE voting yesterday against Israel’s nukes showed, 53 – 2 (the 2 Israel and USA).”
***********

Why go to the IAEA?
In the UN General Assembly we lose on every vote, every time – for decades.

We’ve been losing on so many UN votes, that I lost count.
So what? It’s meaningless.

By the way, regarding the IAEA vote, 53 voted in favor of the decision, 2 objected it – and 47 abstained (weird, somehow this fact slipped away from your report).

In war time, the 100+ countries that always vote against Israel mean nothing.

It’s a game of the big powers and a selected few (like the important countries in Europe and some of the Middle Eastern ones).

Nobody gives a damn about what Zambia or Chile think.

***********
“Arrogance and underestimating the enemy are biggest sin in military history. The enemies learn and adapt.”
***********

I agree.
I never underestimated the enemy – where did you see that?
No doubt that our enemies learned, but we’ve been doing some homework too.

***********
“The second Lebanon war wasn’t an easy invasion like the first.”
***********

You’re right.
But a war against Hizbollah is a war against guerrilla.
A war against Syria is one regular army versus another.

There’s a big difference here.

***********
“The coming Syria war will not be like 67 and 73.”
***********

I never claimed that 73 was easy.
They caught us without our pants.

***********
“This time also the Israeli civil population will have to pay a high price in casualties despite the Arrows…”
***********

It’s always a possibility…
I never claimed otherwise.

No doubt some missiles will land here.

***********
“…and that will trigger an new exodus out of Israel when the flames of war die down. And from that exodus Israel will never recover.”
***********

Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that…

***********
“Israel may win the coming battle but with its present strategy it will eventually loose the war. I hope you have a deep bomb shelter and your family functioning gas masks.”
***********

Thanks for your concern. It’s heartwarming.

No, unfortunately I don’t have a bomb shelter.
I do have a functioning gas mask and if I’ll have to use it, some things will fall on Syrian cities and it’s not gonna be Baklawa.

I’m sure your realize it.

September 20th, 2007, 10:52 pm

 

Alex said:

Israeliguy, Simohurtta is not Syrian, he is not even from Syrian origin. He is one of your many fans in the Scandinavian countries 😉

Tomorrow I will write about the difference between a conventional army and a guerrilla war and about underestimating your enemy (which is now going on in both Israel and among many in the Arab world).

September 20th, 2007, 11:01 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

***********
“Simohurtta is not Syrian, he is not even from Syrian origin. He is one of your many fans in the Scandinavian countries”
***********

I always suspected he is a Zionist who is still in the closet.

***********
“Tomorrow I will write about the difference between a conventional army and a guerrilla war and about underestimating your enemy (which is now going on in both Israel and among many in the Arab world). ”
***********

Looking forward to read it.

September 20th, 2007, 11:19 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

ISRAELIGUY,

Enjoying your exchange. My ex-in-laws were on Rehov Yerushalyim in Ramat Gan.

How did you find our little anti-Israel website?

palace.akbar@gmail.com

September 21st, 2007, 12:39 am

 

Enlightened said:

I watched last night on the history channel a show called battleplan, and it was all about the 73 war, interesting The Israeli’s were caught with their pants down, much the same way the in 2006, I wonder if hostilities did break out what surprises are in store?

Alex look forward to the post.

September 21st, 2007, 12:59 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

******
“Enjoying your exchange. My ex-in-laws were on Rehov Yerushalyim in Ramat Gan.”
******

This is unbelievable. What a small world.
I lived in Shderot Yerushalyim too during the 1st gulf war.

Today, I live in a different part of the city.

September 21st, 2007, 1:32 am

 

why-discuss said:

Isreali guy,
Bravo, when you have a reply to a point, you do it well, when you don’t you become cynical and sarcastic. What about admitting sometimes that you don’t have the answer?

September 21st, 2007, 1:36 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened, these are 2 different stories.

In 73 we had arrogant leaders who believed that the Arabs “learned their lesson” and they will “not dare” to attack Israel again.

Although Israel won the war eventually, this failure sent shock waves to the Israeli society and was a catalyst to bring the political right to power for the first time ever.

The last war was triggered by a Hizbollah operation, but Israel responded to it by going out to war.

Although at the end, Hizbollah forces were pushed north behind the Litani river and although instead of Hizbollah fighters we have on the border friendly UN soldiers (UN resolution 1701) – this war is also considered as a failure in Israel.

After the war, Israel went into the ‘operating theater’ and a lot of radical changes were made.

An independent committee has been formed to investigate the failures and it already published an initial report that listed all the necessary changes (many were already implemented).

The IDF chief of staff was forced to resign, after the massive pressure from the public.

The top brass which managed the war also paid the price with their heads.

The security minister then, Amir Peretz, was also forced to resign after massive public pressure.

During the last year, the Israeli army has been training around the clock.

Now, Israel has Ehud Barak as it’s defense minister.
He’s a pro, not like the joke that was before him.
The new chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi is also a pro.

There are more steps which were taken that I prefer not to disclose, but I have no doubt that we’re in a much better form now.

A 73 style surprise is less likely, but we learned our lesson and we’re always on alert.

September 21st, 2007, 1:57 am

 

IsraeliGuy said:

*******
“Bravo, when you have a reply to a point, you do it well, when you don’t you become cynical and sarcastic. What about admitting sometimes that you don’t have the answer?”
*******

Why-Discuss, first, thanks for your remark.
It’s nice to hear.

If you don’t mind telling me to which of my replies you meant, Ill appreciate it (I’ve had several here).

Cynicism and sarcasm are a natural part of my character and I know that some people do not respond well to them.

I can appreciate sarcasm, even when I’m the target of it.
I think it creates more interesting and spicier debates.

Indeed, I don’t have all answers to all questions, but when I do, I’m not shying away from expressing my opinion, even if there’s a difficult audience.

I truly have no problem admitting anything: flaws, wrong doings, failures – you name it.
Read some of my replies and you’ll see.

September 21st, 2007, 2:10 am

 

Enlightened said:

Israeli Guy;

I dont think the next war (and heres hoping that it doesn’t eventuate) will not be fought conventionally. What we saw last year is only a small blue print, that i think will be strategically built on.

There is a belief within your enemies (Hezb, Syria, Iran), that your society (population and cities) will be targeted as it was in 06, but on a far heavier scale, I think in 73, Sadat had a limited war plan that holding a perimeter of the canal under the SAM umbrella, which was effective for two weeks, when he deviated from this plan, the Egyptian forces were routed due to inn effective air cover and the overwhelming Israeli counter strike.

The Syrians and Iranians have far more missiles ( I don’t believe that your patriots or arrows will provide adequate cover with massive missile launches). They will target major urban centers, and while The Israelis are master planners( with bomb shelters etc) the results will be devastating). They will also fight with small bands of guerrillas/soldiers and while they can cause damage, they know they will not win, but will aim to cause maximum civilian/infrastructure damage to your cities.

This is what i see happening, hence the main reason i think for the Israeli incursion into Syria last week ( was actually targeting a missile base).

What do you think?

September 21st, 2007, 3:56 am

 

Murphy said:

“Murphy, you represent a phenomena which is actually quite popular among both Arabs who live in the Arab world and Arabs who moved abroad.”

Hard to know which is more comical:

1) An Israeli who thinks himself an expert on “Arabs”

2) Anyone who thinks “Murphy” sounds like an Arab name.

Besides, you are straw-manning again. Nobody here ever described any Arab state as a democracy, but defenders of Israel do so all the time. I’ve never heard of an Arab who is under any illusions about the lack of democracy in their countries, but many Israelis are. In any case, if you wish to start a discussion about the lack of democracy in the Arab world, go ahead and start one, but this particular discussion was on the inherently flawed nature of ‘the Middle East’s only democracy’.

Thank you for not responding to a single one of my points. I know, I know, constructing a straw man is so much easier and more fun.

September 21st, 2007, 7:39 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Israeli guys must be in panic

Israel scrambles warplanes to intercept ‘Syrian’ birds

Israeli fighter pilots scrambled warplanes on Friday after radar spotted a potential airborne enemy flying from Syria only to discover the culprits were migratory birds, army radio reported.

Maybe the birds were controlled by Iran and came from North Korea. Did Israel share intelligence with USA about the birds? Lucky that Israeli guys didn’t launch Arrows. It would have been even a more expensive way to hunt birds as using warplanes. 🙂

September 21st, 2007, 9:42 am

 

Murphy said:

I’ve heard Israel’s Security Cabinet is considering branding the aviary which dispatched the birds as an ‘enemy entity’. However, Condi has assured the concerned public that they will not abandon the ‘innocent birds.’

September 21st, 2007, 10:16 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

The White House was deeply troubled by Israel’s assertion that North Korea was assisting Syria’s nuclear ambition, but opted against an immediate response because of concern over negotiations on Pyongyang’s nuclear program, the Post reported, citing U.S. government sources.

Ultimately, however, the United States is believed to have given Israel some corroboration of the original intelligence before the air raid on September 6, the Post said, citing the sources.

The Post quoted its sources as saying that Israel hit the Syrian facility in the dead of night to minimize possible casualties.

I wonder what Hezbollah and Hamas will do to minimize possible casualties?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070921/ts_nm/usa_israel_strikes_dc_1;_ylt=AiG._VX_cuuvLyDQ.D39La0E1vAI

Another terror attacked foiled. Yawn. Try finding that on the BBC’s ME website…

IDF forces operating in Nablus arrest would-be suicide bomber and his two collaborators; men planned to launch terror attack in heart of Israel

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3451756,00.html

Now “Peace” Professor Josh’s Sept. 15 thread: Nuclear Allegations Seemingly Hot Air suddenly doesn’t seem like “hot air” anymore.

September 21st, 2007, 11:25 am

 

Friend in America said:

Enlightened.-
The description of a “commando/terrorist” strategy combined with missile attacks by Syria in the next war is very interesting. I doubt Syria is presently equipped for a terrorist war plan. Could it recruit Hizbollah and the terrorists in Gaza? Iran would have to signal a green light.
I doubt the Israeli incursion targeted a missile base. If the strike was at Dayr az Zawr (and indications are it was), that town is not a good strategic location for a missle base. That town is on the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria. To strike at Lebanon, Turkey, Isreal or Jordan, the missiles would have to fly long distances over Syria itself. Not good. But, there is a nuclear reactor 4km outside Dawr az Zawr in desolate land. Maybe that was the target (???).

When the subject of nuclear facility comes up, too many jump immediately to the asumption the facility develops nuclear weapons. Not always. The small reactor outside Dayr az Zawr has been a research facility and I think had been supplying low grade nuclear products for peaceful means (such as treatment for cancer). It’s activites have been well known to the nuclear watchdog agencies. What got Isreal’s attention was the arrival of product and people not needed for the facility’s past activities but very useful for production of more aggresive products.
Following Enlightened’s description of the next war, is it possible there was a plan to manufacture radioactive isotopes and nuclear by-products that could be used in guerrilla warfare – on a grander scale than the murder of the Russian expatriate in London 2 years ago by a Russian operative? The Dayr az Zawr facility could product the necesary radio active products.

On another subject, the article by Volker Perthes posted by Josh is worth serious reading. The article is one of the very few comprehensive and reasoned assessments of Assad’s foreign policy that I have read. If accurate, now is the time to move on peace initiatives. If the desire for peace is strong, Washington will not, and cannot, impede peace talks.
However, there are activities inconsistentent with Perthes’ assessment, principally the military agreements with Iran, the chemical warfare effort, the still unverfiied nuclear weapon effort at Dayr az Zawr (and elsewhere) and insulting the Saudis. We all live with inconsistencies in policy and activity, but these activities question Assad’s sincerity. So, Assad’s next step should be to make his intentions for peace credible. Volker Perthes could carry that message.
The most dangerous thinking in the middle east is believing having weapons of mass destruction will make neighbors and the major powers cringe and therefore sue for peace. That was Sadam Hussein’s great error in judgment before Gulf War 2 – he actually encouraged the belief that Iraq had secret nuclear weapons when he had none (this disclosure was made in discussions during his captivity in 2005) in the belief it would prevent any effort to topple his regime.

September 21st, 2007, 2:57 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened, I find it hard to believe that the strike in Syria was targeting an ordinary missile base.

The risk is too high and the target doesn’t have such a high value.
The local media here is practically shouting that it was a nuclear related facility – and I believe it.

The Israeli media has an excellent track record on these issues and they don’t have an agenda to mislead the viewers – or they’ll lose them for poor credibility and nobody there wants that.

The scenario that you portrayed seem pretty reasonable.
It’s true that the Iranians and the Syrians have a massive number of missiles but the more important question is how many launchers they have.

In the last war in Lebanon, the IDF managed to hit almost all their heavy launchers.
It’s the small Katyusha rockets that we couldn’t stop, but since most people were in shelters, the number of casualties was relatively low (compared to 4,000 rockets that were fired on Israel).

September 22nd, 2007, 11:07 am

 

Georges said:

There will certainly be a civil war in Lebanon. This will repeat itself as long as the country is left to these immature Lebanese brats. If there was ever a case for a country NOT to be fit to rule itself, it is Lebanon. We know the cycle pretty well now. Every couple of decades, the various Lebanese factions throw a violent tantrum against each other, costing a few hundred thousand lives. As they jockey for political and military power, each faction allies itself with a chosen external regional power, raising the stakes for everyone. Then, when the human and political costs of the war become too high, the world steps in to end it. Then, the irresponsible Lebanese rack up billions of debt to rebuild their country and turn it into a brothel for the Gulf Arabs (their single major industry). Just when it’s time to pay up, it’s time for another war. http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid-569

September 22nd, 2007, 11:02 pm

 

Firas said:

Well put Georges. As a Syria, I’m sick and tired of continued charge that Syria is behind the killings of Lebanese politicians.
Anyone with any knowledge of the region in general, and lebanon in particular, can tell you this is an internal Lebanese job. A pattern has been established. Just before a major political event that is expected to yield an unfavorable result for the US- and Israeli-backed March 14th Group, a junior member of their coalition is blown to shreds. If Syrians sat around a room and designed a campaign aimed at NOTHING but to harm Syria’s interests, they wouldn’t come up with something more effective. And, given that the Syrians are much smarter and more cunning political actors than those in Lebanon, that’s unlikely. If Syria is going to take on the operational and political risk to kill a Lebanese politician, it would serve them to get rid of Walid Jumblatt, Saad Hariri or Samir Geagea. The killing of Antoine Ghanem is just not worth it. The same goes for the other 8; they’re simply not of any significance or even annoyance to Syria to warrant an assassination. The US-, Israeli- and Saudi-allied March 14th coalition is run by a bunch of warlords who have an irrefutable record of war crimes against other Lebanese. Their alliance with Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia is proving ineffective in helping them against their internal rivals for political domination of this little, insignificant country. It certainly is not beyond any of these thugs (Jumblatt, Geagea & Crew) to kill a minor, non-player like Antoine Ghanem.

Lebanon is a dysfunctional state and has been since its inception. This is a country that has a fair amount of freedom and NO democracy. It proves the adage that democracy is not just a political system; it’s an education. Syria did NOT kill Ghanem or any of his predecessors. His own friends sacrificed him to attain their own political agenda, and the Lebanese people, unfortunately, like sheep, just go along with their mobster-like tribal leaders. The irony is that despite its crude management, Syria, who is blamed for every act of violence (despite the lack of ANY evidence to date), has brought the most stability and prosperity to this non-country during its reign of influence.

September 22nd, 2007, 11:05 pm

 

Kamal said:

Firas,

You’re an idiot. The leaders of the Lebanese Independence movement have all lost fathers, sons, brothers and husbands to the Syrian Murder Machine. To still believe it’s an inside job is just lunacy. Then again this is typical Arab thinking. I mean, look at the other comments around here – you fit right in. Apart from a couple of smart guys like Ehsani and Alex, the rest of the comment section is dense with stupidity. The couple of Israelis who comment here are intellectual GIANTS compared to the average Syria Comment commentator. How sad.

If M14 were really such efficient assassins, they could have wiped out the Hizballa leadership by now, and maybe even knocked off a Ba’thist or 2, or maybe rid Lebanon of some cheap SSNP thugs we could all do without. Instead, you’re telling me they have set up an elaborate network to kill off their own leaders, journalists, parliamentarians, and members of their own families. All this, why – just to get Syria in diplomatic trouble? As if the regime were not already in deep shit…

But the dumbest and funniest part of your rant is this here:

> And, given that the Syrians are much smarter and more cunning
> political actors than those in Lebanon

*lol*

September 22nd, 2007, 11:48 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Firas;

“And, given that the Syrians are much smarter and more cunning
political actors than those in Lebanon”

There was a theater movement called the “Theater of the Absurd”,

September 23rd, 2007, 1:35 am

 

Firas said:

I am no supporter of the Baath regime, and believe they have taken my country backwards since 1963. However, looking back with any objectivity, at regional politics since the 50s, the Syrians, from Khaled Azem to Hafez Assad, been more cunning political actors than their Lebanese counterparts. Some, particularly since 1970, have been somewhat provincial and media-stupid, but have proved to be smart political players. Regardless, this is not the debate.

Neither Enlightened, nor the insecure Kamal (who is anything but) has responded to the main point: Why the hell would Syria take on the political and security risk (especially in this climate) to kill off a non-actor like Antoine Ghanem, rather than any of the others? And is it a coincidence that these assassinations happen just before a major event that seems unfavorable to the March 14 thugs?

As for Kamal’s rhetorical (I assume?) question of whether the March 14 criminals would kill off their own “just to get Syria in trouble”, it seems you’re proving who’s dense with stupidity, aren’t you? It’s not about getting Syria in trouble, moron, it’s about advancing a political agenda in Lebanon. The trouble is consequential.

As for the Leaders of the “Independence Movement” who have lost family members to the “Syrian Murder Machine”, let me remind you that many of these independence giants were Syrian pions and most have never uttered a peep of resistance while the Syrians were there; they were willing ‘accomplices’ in Syria’s political order. These lowly pions are no Mandellas. Your “independence leaders” are skilled at one thing: political prostitution to the those they see as today’s political masters. They just switched allegiances…from Syria yesterday to the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia today.

Indeed, some of of your March 14 “indpendence leaders” were agents of the Syrian Mukhabarat, and were themselves a part of the Murder Machine that you refer to. Jumblatt’s thugs of the Hizb el-Ishtiraki were more zealous pro-Mukhabarat than virtually anyone else in Lebanon, possibly including Syrian intelligence themselves. Your icon, Jumblatt, used to bring other Lebanese (Christians and rival Druze) to Beau Rivage and other areas and hand them to Syrians as collaborators or informers working for the Zionists. How many Lebanese were killed by Jumblatt and Geagea during the war vs. by Syrians? Who is the murder machine?

Independence, huh? More and more, it’s evident that the Lebanese are mere sheep. How does an entire community (such as Druze) turn on a dime, with thousands turning vigilantly anti-Syrian one day, killing and burning helpless Syrian civilian workers, when just the day before, they were attacking Syria’s Lebanese rivals? Not a question or a challenge is asked of Jumblatt about the turn-about from one extreme to the other. The same goes for some others?

Lebanon is headed toward another civil war, which will result in yet another regional power coming in and managing the country, just like Syria did (perhaps more subtle…or not). The killing of Antoine Ghanem and the others (and blaming Syria for it) is laying the groundwork for that eventuality. Unfortunately, the Lebanese are asleep at the wheel…again!

September 23rd, 2007, 1:19 pm

 

Kamal said:

Firas,

1. You’re no defender of the Ba’thist regime and I’m no defender of the unsavoury elements of M14, which I consider to be a Lebanese Indepedent movement. I and thousands like myself are part of this movement for its objectives – Lebanese freedom and liberalism – not out of allegiance to sectarian warlords.

You’re right that part of the M14 elite is made up of ex-Syrian puppets. I don’t forgive their crimes as peons of the Syrian Occupation. But note that the Christian community in Lebanon always opposed Syrian aggression in Lebanon, predating the civil war – with scattered exeptions. The only parties with a mass base in the Christian community, the FPM and the LF, steadfastly resisted the Occupation throughout the Syria Era. Finally, our Sunni and Druze brothers have now come around to the historically Christian position in support of Lebanese indepedence from Sister Syria. Ahla wu sahla. Wu inshalla the Shi’a will join us one day soon.

2. The assassination campaign has been very effective, for your information. The Syrian policymakers are not intelligent, far from it! But they are excel at the one thing they know: violent gangsterism. They have effectively punished Lebanon for daring to launch an Indepedence Movement that kicked out the Syrian military from our country. Our economy is at a standstill. Our political institutions are deadlocked. Our people live in fear of the next explosion, especially people in Christian areas, altough Sunni and Druze residential/commercial areas have also been targeted. The leaders of our movement are in hiding, either abroad or within fortresses. And Syria has suffered no real consequences.

True, we haven’t given up our resistance – yet. And we’ve so far withstood pressures towards civil war. But there’s no guarantee we’ll survive forever. The M14 movement could crumble and various elements could submit to Syrian mastery, again or for a first time. After all, the Druze once responded to a Syrian assassination by massacring Christians; the Christians once responded to a Syrian assassination by massacring Palestinians… And the domestic dispute, to which Syria is a primary party, could escalate into civil war, as you predict with glee.

Syria may also strike a deal with the international community that returns Lebanon to Syrian hegemony – it’s happened before. And the Syrian assassination campaign has certainly succeeded in its main objective: demonstrating to the world that Syria holds a hostage, Lebanon, that can be hurt with impunity. To a lesser extent, Syria holds Palestinian and Iraqi hostages, but the easiest Syrian response to any provocation is to hit the hostage Lebanon. Nothing will function in Lebanon without the world’s acceptance of Syrian domination of Lebanon. The regime sympathizers on this blog make that point, over and over again: The world must accept Syrian decisionmaking in Lebanon.

The killings have altered the balance of power in the Lebanese Parliament. They are also a direct threat to the legislature at this key time: our presidential election comes under the shadow of the Syrian gun.

Each new killing energizes and motivates our enemies. They openly rejoice at each killing. The sentiment on Angry Arab’s message boards is “Syria isn’t killing those M14 guys, but whoever’s doing it – keep up the good work!” They gloat on television. They hand out sweets in celebration.

Last not not least, they drive us close to civl war, to your obvious enjoyment. Because that would really confirm your theory of Lebanese bloodthirst, wouldn’t it? How many killings of M14 figures and terrorist targeting of Christian, Sunni and Druze civilians before there is a response? So far, we have resisted the tremendous pressure – thank God. But even a handful of vigilantes could do something stupid at any time and plunge us all towards oblivion.

3. These are not merely killings of what you chillingly term “non-actors”. The civilians maimed in these attacks are not “non-actors”. Each happened in broad daylight in a public place. Hundreds of innocents have been killed or injured in these car bombings – including Syrians, Sri Lankans and others. The last bombing injured 100 bystanders and killed several.

These are terrorist attacks by definition. And they have quite effectively terrorized the Lebanese population. They are intended to be terroristic in the sense of instilling fear of arbitrary and indiscriminate violence; the actual “target” is secondary. The targeting of M14 figures serves only as a claim of responsibility by the killers. It is the killers’ way of explaining their attack and making the threat to all Lebanese – “do not oppose the Syrian will”.

But you are alluding to the fact that, since Hariri’s killing triggered massive popular mobilization, the rest of the targeted figures have not been figureheads. Our friend As’ad AbuKhalil, an Angry Arab with no love for Lebanon, buries his interpretation of this amidst an anti-M14 rant on the occasion of the assassination of Walid ‘Eido:

“The Syrian regime was humiliatingly forced to withdraw from Lebanon, and the Syrian regime most likely resorted to what it does well: to fight dirty… `Idu was good in the quick transformation that many politicians of his ilk made after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri: he went from being one of the most passionate advocates of the Syrian regime, to one of the most passionate advocates against the Syrian regime. But the killers know their targets: they now go after 2nd tier members of the ruling coalition: people who don’t have a mass base…”

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2007/06/anther-explosion-in-beirut.html

September 23rd, 2007, 7:17 pm

 

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